Seroquel suit in Arkansas to proceed

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock)

State drug suit gains court go-ahead McDaniel contends manufacturer’s misinformation proved costly

The state’s lawsuit against drug manufacturer AstraZeneca will move forward after a judge ruled Thursday against the company’s motion to dismiss the case.

In its complaint filed by Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel last May, the state claims AstraZeneca gave Arkansas doctors false information that encouraged them to prescribe an antipsychotic drug to children and the elderly for uses beyond its federal approval and thus harmed patients and cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

It’s one of three major drug companies the state is suing with claims they illegally marketed the antipsychotic drugs Zyprexa, Risperdal and Seroquel to be paid for by state Medicaid and employee health-insurance programs.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza’s ruling Thursday came after a two-hour hearing during which attorneys for AstraZeneca said Seroquel is a “good drug” that’s been successfully used to treat serious mental illnesses for more than a decade.

It was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September 1997 for treatment of such psychotic illnesses as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Arkansas Medicaid continues to cover Seroquel, and a state committee that reviews medications for the program hasn’t recommended restricting prescribing of the drug, argued J. Gordon Cooney Jr., of the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP of Pittsburgh.

Cooney, who’s representing AstraZeneca in at least four other Seroquel cases around the country, said the attorney general’s lawsuit second-guesses the physicians who prescribed Seroquel to patients.

He said the state’s lawsuit fails to give any specific cases in which it claims company representatives gave false information to Arkansas doctors or Medicaid officials. Furthermore, it doesn’t name any patients who suffered harmful side effects from the drug, he said.

“We have no idea what we’re defending, how many claims there are or what the complaints may be,” Cooney said.

The state’s “broad and general allegations of fraud” make the case difficult to argue and would create an “amorphous mess” that would only confuse jurors if it went to trial, he said.

But Fletch Trammell, with Bailey Perrin Bailey LLP of Houston, the private firm hired by the state for the case, argued that the law doesn’t require the state to present specific cases. The complaint against Astra-Zeneca is one of “systemic fraud,” he said.

Trammell said AstraZeneca failed to warn physicians and patients that Seroquel had the potential to cause such conditions as diabetes and stroke even though the company knew of the risks. Knowing the potential harmful side effects would’ve affected how doctors prescribed the medication, and the state has the right to try to recoup its costs, he said.

“Had they not lied to doctors, those doctors wouldn’t have submitted those claims … We allege that every single Seroquel prescription was tainted by fraud,” Trammell said.

In his ruling immediately after attorneys’ arguments, Piazza said the case needed to continue.

“This may be an amorphous mess, but I think it needs to go to the next level,” he said.

Justin Allen, Arkansas’ chief deputy attorney general, said he expects that at least a year will pass before the Seroquel case goes to trial. The state is suing London-based AstraZeneca PLC and four of its related companies in the United States and abroad.

The state’s lawsuits against Titusville, N.J.-based Janssen Pharmaceutica of Johnson & Johnson Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co. of Indianapolis are ongoing.



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3 responses to “Seroquel suit in Arkansas to proceed

  1. taffy19

    my grandaughter was in state care 7 18teen she came HOME to live with me she was on all this medication while on seroquel she would sleep a few hours then stay up a hold day and night before she could sleep again would hardly she went from 125 lbs to 175 lbs in no took me awhile before i relized what was going on she took herself off all her medications once she did this she started looseing all that wight her breast is still very inlarged but she is doing far better off her medications than when she was on them

  2. sergio

    seroquel is evil !!!!! they prescribed to me in 5 minutes !!! and i had nothing !!! it was only like a “preventive” tractament …. what a fraud !!

    It can cause irreversible effects.

    What i experienced : impotency, loss vision, loss of hair, all the muscles stiff, weigt gain, it damages the liver, contamine the blood, im sure it changes your metabolism, and fatigue, a lot of fatigue … bad memory, poor concentratin, loss of the creativity …. it damages your brain, and heart, and shure the lunges… it is like an atomic bomb !!!! for sure !! justice !

  3. leonard martino;selector-perfector

    the reason seroquel is still being touted and defended by pharma, congress and just the whole medical establishment is what i can gather from these facts:

    1) persons with bad psychosis or sever bi-polar manic episodes in the past had to be admitted frequently to the hospital psyche wards for weeks of observation and after a high recividsm rate ended up in a state asylum

    obviouslly there is no money but for this miracle drug it eliminates costly hospital stays at tax payers expense

    2) fact supporting the tactic approval is the fact these patients are know to not take their medicines as prescribed and rarely ever follow through on drug maintenance program offered to them by medicaid programs locally

    3) these psychotics after a while off their legal meds once they start feeling ok they naturally at some point start getting into trouble many times taking alchohol or drugs and then the miracle occurs when all they need to do is grab a few seroquel pills to knock them out for a few days

    4) the medicine is a godsend for medical community who otherwise know no cure exists for these people and they truly are not alcoholics or drug abusers as typically arises from recreational use the seek these as palliatives

    5) FDA only approved seroquel for teh two conditions above however emails exist advising sales reps to essentially lie to drs that it was approved for off use for anxiety and agitation etc when in fact dangers were known

    6) Astrazeneca(co) sent warning letters to drs in japan but not here although you did state it is there hidden in fine print now that blood glucose levels to be monitored before and during use of said drug

    7) the two above FDA approved uses represent a very small percentage of psychotics and bi polars who would actually need thsi drug for instance many bi polars on just lithium alone are fine- these extreme manic episodes of people ripping the walls down in their homes are rare

    8) so by lying to doctors about non FDA approved uses is how the many billions -est 2.2 billion first year sales in 1997-made this a wonedr drug

    9) finally-although i am sure more damaging evidence exists in what the courts have on file in cases termed bellweather i guess nicer way of saying iron clad-the many innocent people harmed by this drug were the honest ones abiding by their doctors set dosage and taking them as scheduled. these are the ones whose lives will never be the same in fact some have died i dont have an exact account but this is public knowledge listed on the web and the rest whose bodies and health are declining rapidly just waiting to die and wish they were dead

    10) it is very simple to determine a bell weather case- just take a patient who has been on several medications for 18 years and has medical records that glucose levels,blood pressure, genera health show no change but steady functioning life of wwork and stbaility devoid of severe episodes once he gets on this stuff s- seroquel and finds months later he thinks he is dying then the proof is there- this person was responsible with his life, did not waste valuable resources by being constantly hospitalized etc and he is the one victimized here

    11)and in the case i know well the patient had non of the FDA approved symptoms he only had anxiety and agitation that in reality a good psychiatrist could have handled rather than a mere drug pusher who you and the whole system support

    12) I say this because this ad glosses over in an artistic sleight of hand the dangers of this drug which leads me to believe you are aiding the defendants by with holding the damaging aspect as your fine print’s lack of bold lettering further supported AZN on the fine print lending itself to this fact as you obviously know these dangers but by failing to place them in plain view same as defendents you instead chose to obsure them within the accolades of some andy warhol asian knock off wannabe artist ad- that is the only message the ad supports same as you do when in order to help teh public you should have torn down the artists works subjectively to avoid more deaths

    13) this whole chain of events is a disgrace and indictment against the gross intentional culpability of AZN and you the media for tacitly looking the other way the same as the medical community has down all along- you dont have the guts to stand up against these drug co because you might affect their stock price and become irrelevant as an media analyst losing respect from your peers is worse than saving lives us the suckers who trust

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