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UK Drugmaker Settles Lawsuits for $198 Million

Source: Financial Times

Posted on 09 Aug 2010

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The second-largest pharmaceutical group in the UK, AstraZeneca, has agreed to settle lawsuits filed by U.S. claimants over its drug Seroquel to the tune of $198 million.

The settlement comes out of a court-ordered mediation in which plaintiffs said they were not warned that the drug could cause diabetes in some users. The company maintains that its labelling has made clear any potential associations between Seroquel and the disease.

AstraZeneca was defending more than 10,000 lawsuits involving more than 22,000 defendants and was aware of 176 more cases that had been filed but not yet served. Spokespersons for the company said, “We believe it was in the best interest of the company to explore resolving these cases through the mediation process. We remain committed to a strong defence effort, but will also continue to participate in good faith in court-ordered mediation.”

Seroquel is AstraZeneca’s second best-selling drug after Nexium, which treats gastrointestinal disorders. It generated $2.7bn in global sales in the first half of this year, a 10 per cent rise from 2009, and represents about 15 per cent of the company’s global revenues.

The FDA has approved Seroquel for treatment of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in adults, bipolar disorder among 10- to 17-year-olds and schizophrenia in adolescents aged 13 to 17. The drug is sometimes used off-label to treat insomnia and anxiety disorders. AstraZeneca’s patent is due to expire next year – although it runs through to March 2012 for pediatric use.