AZ nabs more uses for Seroquel XR

It's a good-news kind of week for AstraZeneca. The drugmaker announced new indications for its antipsychotic med Seroquel XR in Europe: for bipolar depression and for moderate-to-severe manic episodes. That makes Seroquel "currently the only atypical antipsychotic approved to treat the spectrum of mood episodes associated with bipolar disorder and the only licensed treatment for bipolar depression in the EU," AZ said in a statement.

The drug recently snared a similar set of approvals from FDA, part of AstraZeneca's push to broaden the schizophrenia med's use to a bigger market. Already Seroquel is the company's second-biggest seller with $4 billion in 2007 sales. The approval for bipolar disorder is a useful addition that will underpin the drug's sales momentum, Evolution Securities analyst Peter Cartwright told Dow Jones.

Key to boosting that revenue, or even simply hanging onto it, is supplanting plain old Seroquel with the once-daily Seroquel XR. The older version is already under attack from generics makers even though it's not scheduled to go off patent till 2011. The longer-acting formulation enjoys more patent protection.

- read AZ's release
- see the story in the Chicago Tribune
- get more from Dow Jones