AstraZeneca has settled thousands of Seroquel claims for nearly $200 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. The settlements cover claims that the drug, approved to treat schizophrenia and bipolar depression, caused diabetes and other injuries.
Seroquel – which was introduced in 1997 – has long been linked to a risk of weight gain and diabetes. In 2003 and 2004, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) directed AstraZeneca and manufacturers of similar antipsychotic drugs to add warnings about these risks to their labels.
AstraZeneca faced roughly 26,000 Seroquel lawsuits. In addition to the thousands settled, the company said an additional 2,900 claims had been dismissed as of June 29. AstraZeneca is participating in a court-ordered mediation with plaintiffs in Orlando, Fla., where federal cases from multiple districts had been consolidated.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the newly announced Seroquel settlements will cover 17,500 product liability claims. The $198 billion settlement averages out to about $11,300 per claimant.
According to a Bloomberg News report, AstraZeneca won the first trial over Seroquel in March, when a New Jersey jury found that the company properly warned a Vietnam veteran’s doctors about the diabetes risk posed by the drug.
In April, we reported that AstraZeneca had reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to pay $520 million to settle charges that it illegally marketed Seroquel from January 2001 to December 2006 for some uses not approved by the FDA.
Just last month, the FDA demand that AstraZeneca stop using a promotional letter for Seroquel XR, an extended-release version of the medicine, that doesn’t contain a legally required diabetes warning.
Seroquel was AstraZeneca’s second-best seller in 2009, generating $4.9 billion of the company’s $32.8 billion in worldwide sales.