Tuesday, August 17, 2010

So Sue Me!

According to, a website for business managers, the large drug company AstraZeneca (AZ) has 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.

Of course, any doctor who prescribes this drug should already know about this risk, regardless of how the drug is promoted.  It should be said that the drug is a very effective drug for many people who have hallucinations and delusions. Lately, however, it is being widely prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, and depression, as well as for generalized anxious moodiness misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder. 

Somehow the risk of a patient becoming addicted to insulin is deemed by these idiot doctors to be much less significant than the risk of becoming addicted to a far more appropriate tranquilizer or a sleeping pill.  (Actually, the most dangerous consequence for most people who become dependent on a tranquilizer is that they are dependent on a tranquilizer).

Anyways, Astra Zenica had already paid $656 million for its own legal expenses on Seroquel cases and $520 million to resolve similar allegations from the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to Bnet, "Despite that, AZ’s sales force continues to hand out leaflets that don’t contain the legally required warning that Seroquel may cause diabetes, according to this FDA 'untitled' letter from July 29."

So why is the company folding on the lawsuits while continuing to hand out these leaflets?  Well to know for sure you would have to ask them, and they would probably lie to you if you did.  However, as the Bnet article points out, Seroquel makes $1.2 billion per quarter for the company.  You do the math. 

The most logical answer to the question I raise in the last paragaraph is that AZ sees paying legal settlements as just a minor business expense while the company tries to maximize its profits on the drug while it still has the exclusive patent on it.

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