The pharmaceutical giant is being sued by the Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Abbott claims that AstraZeneca has been illegally marketing its antipsychotic Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate) for unapproved uses and paying kickbacks to physicians and state health officials. The Texas AG’s action builds on whistleblower suits that have been filed by two former AZN sales reps.
Greg Abbott has accused AstraZeneca of bribing two key decision makers within the state’s healthcare system with sums totaling USD 465 000 to achieve an increased number of Seroquel prescriptions. The company is also said to have encouraged and rewarded prescriptions of the drug for indications that Seroquel had not been approved of, such as depression and anxiety. A lot of work was also made to reach prescribers for children and teenagers, age groups that the pharmaceutical had not been approved for in 2013. The company had allegedly put a lot of focus on the healthcare program Texas Medicaid that is directed towards low income earners in the state.
The lawsuit means that the company’s profits gained through illegal activities will be forfeit and repaid to the state in double the size of the original amount. AstraZeneca could also be forced to pay fines up to USD 11 000 for each opportunity for crime.