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Pharmaceutical company reaches $198 million settlement of 17,500 Seroquel lawsuits

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca Plc is set to pay roughly $198 million dollars to settle about 17,500 product liability lawsuits. The product liability lawsuits alleged that AstraZeneca’s antipsychotic drug Seroquel causes some users to develop diabetes. AstraZeneca had previously agreed to pay at least $55 million dollars to resolve more than 5,500 lawsuits alleging that the company knew that Seroquel could cause diabetes and failed to adequately warn patients. The earlier agreements to settle are part of the 17,500 product liability settlements. The Financial Times reported that the product liability settlement stems from court ordered mediation. And, the Wall Street Journal reported that analysts have described the settlement figure as relatively small.

Seroquel is an antipsychotic drug used in the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, insomnia, and anxiety disorders. Annual sales of Seroquel are approximately $4.7 billion worldwide and $2.9 billion in the U.S. The most common side effect of the drug is sedation and other side effects include tachycardia, abnormal liver tests, dizziness, upset stomach, substantial weight gain, a stuffy nose, akathisia, and increased paranoia. The rare, but life-threatening, neuroleptic malignant syndrome may also result from use of the drug.

In October 2009, AstraZeneca reported reaching a $520 million agreement to settle two federal investigations and two whistle-blower lawsuits over the sale and marketing of Seroquel. One of the investigations related to certain physicians who participated in clinical trials and the other involved off-label promotion of the drug. Aggressive marketing resulted in Seroquel being increasingly used for children and elderly people for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Physicians are permitted to prescribe any approved drug for off-label uses.

Read more about the product liability settlement by visiting the Wall Street Journal.