AZ faces $1.2B in Seroquel legal costs

Seroquel legal costs could take a $1.2 billion bite out of AstraZeneca's bottom line, the Financial Times reports. With a growing number of lawsuits from Seroquel patients and government regulators, the drugmaker may end up forking over that much in fees and settlements, the paper says.

In the fourth quarter of 2009, AstraZeneca upped its legal set-aside for Seroquel to $254 million to cover a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over sales and marketing practices. Meanwhile, it's defending some 10,000 lawsuits in U.S. courts, covering 22,000 plaintiffs. Another 177 cases have been filed in the U.S. Plus, it's dealing with class actions in Canada and patent challenges in the U.S., Brazil and Portugal.

So lawyers are billing the company big-time, of course. According to the FT, AstraZeneca has incurred $656 million in legal costs through year's end; insurance is expected to reimburse the lion's share of that, or $521 million. It's a good thing that Seroquel accounted for $4.9 billion in sales last year, eh?

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