Report: S.C. AG reaches $26M settlement with AstraZeneca

Jessica M. Karmasek Aug. 24, 2012, 2:00pm


COLUMBIA, S.C. (Legal Newsline) - South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson's office has reportedly reached a $26 million settlement with pharmaceutical maker AstraZeneca over allegations that the company violated the state's Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The Attorney General's Office alleged that AstraZeneca willfully mislead consumers on the side effects of the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel.

In particular, the office argued the company failed to include a warning on the risk of weight gain, high blood pressure and diabetes, among other health risks.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Seroquel -- or Quetiapine -- tablets are used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia.

The tablets also are used alone or with other medications to treat or prevent episodes of mania or depression in patients with bipolar disorder.

The extended-release form of the tablets also can be used along with other medications to treat depression.

The Spartanburg Herald Journal reported Thursday that a settlement order, signed by Circuit Court Judge Roger Couch, was filed Wednesday.

The settlement makes the third award and final case against the drug maker in the state, according to the newspaper.

According to the Herald Journal, AstraZeneca agreed to pay $26 million -- $20 million in damages and restitution to the state, $5 million in penalties and $1 million in trial costs -- but did not admit any wrongdoing.

Wilson's office told the newspaper that some of the funds will go to the state's general fund, some will go to Medicaid and the rest will go to insurance companies.

In a statement to the Herald Journal, AstraZeneca said it was best to settle.

"After years of costly litigation, we decided that settling this case was the appropriate way to resolve the matter and allow the company to focus on our core mission of delivering meaningful medicines to patients," Tony Jewell, the company's senior director of corporate communications, told the newspaper.

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