$200 million to settle Seroquel lawsuits

    The Delaware-based pharmaceutical company Astrazeneca will settle lawsuits with thousands of patients over its top-selling psychiatric drug, despite getting many previous cases tossed from court.

    A Delaware-based drugmaker is paying nearly $200 million to settle lawsuits over its blockbuster medication, Seroquel. This despite the company’s success in getting many of the early lawsuits dismissed from court.

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    Astrazeneca’s statement on the settlementMore than 20,000 patients have sued AstraZeneca, saying the company didn’t properly warn them and doctors that Seroquel could cause weight gain, diabetes and other health problems. The drug is used to treat psychiatric conditions, and sales are in the billions annually.

    Rather than defend each case in court, the company will distribute the settlement among 17,000 plaintiffs.

    Eggen: These payments are per capita relatively small payments. So I think Astrazeneca is viewing this as a pretty good deal for them.

    Jean Eggen is a professor at Widener School of Law. She says it’s better to settle for a small amount, than go through protracted litigation.

    Eggen: They could be spending just an exorbitant amount of money defending lawsuits, even if they win them.

    While the company says it has appropriately warned doctors about the side effects of the drug, the federal government warned Astrazeneca in July to stop distributing material that did not include warnings about causing diabetes. One third of the Seroquel lawsuits are pending.

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