Market Overview

Baron & Budd Secures $110 Million to Settle Texas Whistleblower Lawsuits Against AstraZeneca for Fraudulently Marketing Seroquel, Crestor

Share:

Suits Alleged Pharmaceutical Giant Illegally Promoted Seroquel
Prescriptions for Children, Misrepresented Safety of Crestor

Today, the national law firm of Baron
& Budd
announced that AstraZeneca has agreed to pay $110 million
to settle two
whistleblower lawsuits
brought by the State of Texas under the Texas
Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act ("TMFPA"). The first settlement, totaling
$90 million, resolves allegations that AstraZeneca targeted the Texas
Medicaid system with a fraudulent marketing scheme for its expensive and
powerful atypical antipsychotic drugs Seroquel IR and Seroquel XR from
2007 through 2010. The second settlement for $20 million resolves
allegations that AstraZeneca misrepresented and concealed information
about the safety, efficacy and appropriate use of its drug Crestor to
the Texas Medicaid system. AstraZeneca has denied any wrongdoing in both
cases.

Seroquel is an antipsychotic drug approved by the FDA for use by adults
in 1997. Due to Seroquel's severe side-effects, the FDA limited its use
to short-term treatment for the more severe end of the spectrum of
psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The
Texas Attorney General alleged that the company gave false information
to Texas Medicaid providers regarding Seroquel's efficacy for uses not
approved by the FDA, misrepresented the drug's potent nature and side
effects, illegally promoted its use by children under the age of 18, and
improperly influenced and exploited Texas state officials to facilitate
the fraud.

"Children who are removed from abusive or neglectful homes and placed in
foster care often experience some degree of trauma, which can lead to
depression," said Scott
Simmer
, the Baron & Budd attorney representing an AstraZeneca sales
representative who was the first whistleblower to come forward in the
case. "It's really appalling to think that a drug company could take
advantage of vulnerable children to sell a drug that they should not be
taking."

In the second suit, Baron & Budd represented two former AstraZeneca
sales specialists who were the first to come forward with information
alleging that their employer illegally marketed the drug Crestor to the
Texas Medicaid system. Crestor is a member of the class of medications
known as "statins," which lower cholesterol levels by blocking enzymes
that are essential to cholesterol production.

Due to concerns about Crestor's toxicity, the FDA limited the manner in
which it could be prescribed when it initially approved the drug in
2003. Crestor was not approved to treat the progression of
atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque builds up inside the
arteries, until 2007. However, the suit brought by the state of Texas
alleged that AstraZeneca illegally promoted the use of Crestor for
treating atherosclerosis, making unsubstantiated claims regarding the
efficacy and safety of Crestor.

"When there are multiple drugs on the market that treat similar
indications, the state officials who manage the Texas Medicaid formulary
of approved drugs have the important task of evaluating which drugs
provide the best efficacy, safety and value for money," said Simmer. "It
is simply wrong for a drug maker to misrepresent its products to state
officials as well as to doctors, putting lives at risk and wasting
taxpayer resources."

"We are very grateful to state prosecutors Ray Winter, Cynthia O'Keeffe
and Eugenia Krieg and their team for their tireless efforts in
prosecuting these two cases," Simmer said. "The Texas Attorney General's
office has been very conscientious in investigating and prosecuting
Medicaid fraud allegations brought by our whistleblowers who uncovered
this fraud."

ABOUT BARON & BUDD, P.C.

Baron & Budd, P.C. is among the largest and most accomplished
plaintiffs' law firms in the country. With more than 35 years of
experience, Baron & Budd has the expertise and resources to handle
complex litigation throughout the United States. As a law firm that
takes pride in remaining at the forefront of litigation, Baron & Budd
has spearheaded many significant cases for hundreds of entities and
thousands of individuals. Since the firm was founded in 1977, Baron &
Budd has achieved substantial national acclaim for its work on
cutting-edge litigation, trying hundreds of cases to verdict and
settling tens of thousands of cases in areas of litigation as diverse as
dangerous pharmaceuticals and defective medical devices, asbestos and
mesothelioma, environmental contamination, fraudulent banking practices,
motor vehicles, employment, and other consumer fraud issues.

View Comments and Join the Discussion!