AstraZeneca has agreed to pay $520 million to settle charges the drug company marketed the antipsychotic drug Seroquel for unapproved uses.
The government charges that AstraZeneca paid kickbacks to doctors to illegally market the drug and prescribe it for uses the Food and Drug Administration had not approved, including anger management, post-traumatic stress disorder and sleeplessness. Last year Seroquel was the best-selling drug in the U.S., with $4.9 billion in sales.
As the New York Times reports, last year Pfizer paid $2.3 billion, including a record $1.3 billion criminal fine, to settle claims of off-label marketing of Bextra and other drugs, including the antipsychotic Geodon. Eli Lilly and Bristol-Myers Squibb also have settled similar claims regarding antipsychotics.
Peter Loftus reported Tuesday for Dow Jones that the same sales representative who blew the whistle on AstraZeneca's marketing practices also assisted the government probe of Eli Lilly. The company paid $1.4 billion in January 2009 to settle that case.