AZ agrees to $150M Seroquel settlement

AstraZeneca has settled another batch of Seroquel liability suits. The drugmaker agreed to pay $150 million to resolve about 6,000 cases claiming AZ knew Seroquel could cause diabetes but didn't adequately warn patients about that risk, sources tell Bloomberg. The deal brings the Seroquel settlement total to almost $350 million.

On average, the latest settlement allocates about $25,000 to each plaintiff, Bloomberg's sources said, more than twice the $11,000 average payout in a $198 million settlement of 17,500 claims last year. That deal, announced last summer, dispensed with some two-thirds of the 26,000 Seroquel claims outstanding in U.S. courts, the company said at the time. Now, with the latest deal, some 4,000 claims are yet to be resolved.

Seroquel is one of the atypical antipsychotic meds that hit the market with plenty of fanfare, promising effective treatment of psychiatric problems with fewer side effects than older meds. But the drugs proved to carry their own risks, especially the potential for weight gain and diabetes. And as drugmakers broadened the list of uses for these treatments--Seroquel, for example, is also approved as an add-on treatment for major depression--sales grew apace, making them some of the best-selling drugs in the world.

Seroquel is far from the only atypical antipsychotic facing lawsuits from patients. Johnson & Johnson is fighting hundreds of claims that its Risperdal drug led to such health problems as diabetes, and Eli Lilly confronts similar litigation over its atypical product Zyprexa. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca and Lilly have agreed to pay $520 million and $1.4 billion, respectively, to settle federal allegations that they promoted these meds for off-label use; J&J has disclosed that it's negotiating to settle a similar probe.

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