AstraZeneca sales over $5 billion a year worldwide from its drug Seroquel alone. Recently it has come to the attention of the public of the astronomical lawsuit defense costs as a result of failing to adequately warn about the serious side effects the drug carries. At the present, these are only allegations. The decision is now left up to the courts to decide is this is true. The costs have exceeded the extent of the liability insurance coverage for defense costs against the medication.
Seroquel XR is AstraZeneca’s top-selling bipolar disorder treatment drug. There are over 10,000 lawsuits pending against the company related to the drug and its side effects. These include diabetes, pancreatitis, tardive dyskinesia, and death. Tardive dyskinesia is a serious adverse effect of any type of medication used to treat mental illness. It is a movement disorder that includes lip smacking, grimacing, repetitive chewing, pursing and puckering of the lips, tongue protrusion, rapid eye movements and blinking, and impaired finger movements. The longer a medication that causes this movement disorder is taken, the worse it becomes. To make matters worse, tardive dyskinesia is not reversible.
AstraZeneca’s lawsuits over Seroquel relate to the reasons Seroquel is given. Seroquel is given twice a day for schizophrenia and is sometimes given for bipolar disease. Bipolar disease is also known a manic-depressive disorder. Seroquel is considered an atypical antipsychotic.
While AstraZeneca is dealing with more than 10,000 lawsuits over its top-selling drug Seroquel, the FDA has approved the release of Seroquel XR, an extended release form of the drug. It has been approved for the treatment of bipolar disease. It will be used along with the drugs lithium and depakote as a maintenance treatment for bipolar disorder.
Among the lawsuits for the side effects of Seroquel, AstraZeneca has also been accused of giving the drug for off-label uses. This is currently being investigated, but according to some experts, this has occurred as much as 70% of all Seroquel prescriptions. Off-label uses mean that Seroquel was used beyond what the FDA has approved as safe and beneficial for consumer.
Did AstraZeneca place the making of money as priority over the safety and health of the people who were taking the drug? Is it possible that AstraZeneca minimized the risks of the Seroquel? The first two cases set for trial in this matter were dismissed because plaintiffs failed to establish proof of the connection between the drug and diabetes under Florida law. However, the first trial for a Seroquel lawsuit has been scheduled to begin in October 2009 in the state of Missouri. Other lawsuits are pending at this time.