AstraZeneca agreed to a $520 million dollar settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and a consortium of state Medicaid agencies without admitting any wrongdoing in its marketing of the atypical antipsychotic drug, Seroquel.
“AstraZeneca paid kickbacks to doctors as part of an illegal scheme to market drugs for unapproved uses,” Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, said at the event in Washington. She said the company promoted drugs for unapproved uses by children, the elderly, veterans and prisoners.
Glenn Engelmann, AstraZeneca’s U.S. general counsel, released a statement saying the company denies the allegations but settled the investigation with the payment.
The government said the company also paid for ghostwritten journal articles, and marketed the drug to primary care and nursing home doctors targeting off-label, unapproved uses for Seroquel, including Alzheimer’s disease and anger management. A drug must gain U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for additional uses if the company wants to market those uses to doctors. Otherwise, doctors are free to prescribe a drug for any use they want.
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