Abbott faces more AIDS suits

Lawsuits, lawsuits, lawsuits. Two drugmakers' hometown newspapers offer a rundown on the litigation they face over sales tactics: For AstraZeneca, it's allegations of improperly marketing Seroquel, and for Abbott, more claims over its pricing of the AIDS med Norvir.

Yes, Abbott settled one big Norvir suit last week. But the Chicago Tribune calls that deal "likely its cheapest" it will manage in dispatching the constellation of suits it faces. They all accuse Abbott of hiking the price of Norvir to stifle competition from other drugs and drive patients to its combo drug Kaletra, which also contains Norvir. Inconveniently, some internal communications between execs plotting to "thwart their rivals in the lucrative HIV drug cocktail market" have come out in court documents, the newspaper notes.

As for AstraZeneca and Seroquel, the News-Journal offers a comprehensive look at the marketing allegations filed by three state attorneys general and at the thousands of patient lawsuits over the drug's side effects. With $4 billion in sales, Seroquel is AstraZeneca's second-biggest drug; the company says its success is based on the fact that it's effective in a wide range of mental illnesses. But the state lawsuits allege a variety of marketing infractions, including widespread off-label promotions. AstraZeneca denies the charges; we'll have to wait and see how the courts decide.

- read the story in the Chicago Tribune
- check out the News-Journal article