Pharma Company AstraZeneca To Pay Texas $110 Million Over Alleged Fraudulent Marketing

AstraZeneca agreed this week to pay the state of Texas $110 million to settle a pair of lawsuits in which the state accused the pharma giant of fraudulent marketing.

The suits separately deal with the drugs Seroquel, which is an antipsychotic medication, and Crestor, to lower cholesterol. Texas claimed AstraZeneca marketed Seroquel to Texas Medicaid providers who treated children and adolescents—even though the drugs weren’t approved for use among that population—and made hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal payments to a couple former state hospital doctors to influence the drug’s use.

The state claimed AstraZeneca similarly pushed beyond the boundaries of what was scientifically supported with its marketing of Crestor.

The largest piece—$90 million—of the payment relates to Seroquel. The other $20 million relates to Crestor. AstraZeneca made clear in a statement that the deal does not come with an admission of fault.

As Bloomberg reports here, claims related to Seroquel have cost its maker $1.3 billion, with another whistleblower suit brought by the the U.S. and multiple states still pending. The Bloomberg story includes this quote:

“I feel like I see this again and again,” said Elizabeth Burch, a law professor at the University of Georgia. “Companies see these settlements as the equivalent of regulatory fines and decide to keep using the same marketing tactics over and over. Its pretty galling.”

Texas was seeking $5 billion in total. The suits were filed in 2013.