AstraZeneca Plc. has settled almost all of the lawsuits that claimed its antipsychotic drug Seroquel causes diabetes in some users. AstraZeneca, the U.K.’s second-biggest drugmaker, will pay $647 million to settle 28,461 lawsuits. All of the lawsuits say AstraZeneca knew Seroquel could cause diabetes in some users. The company said in a report that after this settlement, there will be about 250 unresolved cases.
Eli Lilly & Co., maker of the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa, has paid at least $1.2 billion to resolve lawsuits alleging that it caused diabetes in some users. That’s in addition to the $1.42 billion in fines the drugmaker paid the U.S. government to resolve claims that it illegally marketed Zyprexa.
AstraZeneca, based in London, announced last summer it had resolved about two-thirds of the 26,000 Seroquel suits that had been filed in courts around the U.S. at the time. Seroquel, with 2010 sales of $5.3 billion, is the company’s second-biggest seller, after the cholesterol-reducing drug Crestor. Of that number, $3.75 billion in sales were from the U.S., the filings said. AstraZeneca trails only London-based GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) among U.K. drug companies.
AstraZeneca officials said in the filing that the company so far had paid a total of $749 million in legal fees and expenses to defend against Seroquel claims. Of that total, about $134 million is covered by insurance. In addition, the company agreed last year to pay $520 million to resolve U.S. allegations that it illegally marketed Seroquel for unapproved uses.
There have also been a number of lawsuits filed by state Attorneys General over the company’s Seroquel marketing, according to the report. AstraZeneca agreed in March to pay $68.5 million to settle claims that it deceptively marketed Seroquel in 37 states. In July, a judge rejected AstraZeneca’s request to throw out a case brought by Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel alleging the drugmaker hid the health risks of Seroquel when selling it to residents covered by the state’s Medicaid program.
Since 2006, all Seroquel cases filed against AstraZeneca in U.S. federal courts have been consolidated in Orlando, Fla., for pretrial discovery. The cases are all part of the Multi-District Litigation program intended to save money by streamlining document exchanges and avoiding duplication. The judge overseeing the federal cases asked Stephen Saltzburg, a George Washington University Law School professor, to serve as mediator in hopes of reaching settlements.
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