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In a previous post, I described how the drug company giant AstraZeneca agreed to pay about $198 million to settle lawsuits alleging that its promotional material neglected to mention the significant risk of getting diabetes from its anti-psychotic drug, Seroquel. In another post, I described how The U.S. Department of Justice fined the company $520 million for off-label marketing of the very same drug.
With stories like this coming with almost nauseating regularity, the company has now agreed to pay the District of Columbia and 37 other states $68.5 million for, once again for off-label marketing of Seroquel (for sleep disorders and anxiety, among other conditions) and failure to warn of potentially serious side effects such as weight gain, elevated blood sugar and diabetes.
In settling this last suit, the company of course once again denied any wrongdoing at all but said it was paying it off to get the complainants off of its collective back. They did agree, however, to start doing what they claim they were already doing in the first place: having their drug representatives refer only to the FDA-approved indications of the drug and avoid focussing discussions with doctors on disembodied symptoms alone.
The company also said they had already set aside money for settling these sorts of lawsuits, so apparently this expense will not show up on any financial reports that they send to their shareholders. And for the company, despite the seemingly large sums involved, the fines are chump change compared to what the drug brings in. Just a minor cost of doing business.
As I have also frequently blogged about, and written about in my book, PhARMA's shady promotion of antispsychotic medication has been a big factor in the explosion of phony bipolar "spectrum" diagnoses.
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