AZ outlined 'weight-neutral' Seroquel pitch

More internal documents have surfaced in AstraZeneca's Seroquel fight, Bloomberg reports. The latest: A "dear colleague" letter from marketing official Debbie Holdsworth, stating that AstraZeneca's "global strategy is to demonstrate to consumers that Seroquel has a weight-neutral profile." That letter was dated 2001, plaintiff's attorney Ed Blizzard pointed out, four years after an internal email stated 45 percent of Seroquel patients gained "significant weight" within a year on the drug.

Former executive John Patterson explained the "weight neutral" stance this way: "If you look at the population as a whole, some are below weight, some are average weight and some are above weight, so that taken together, the effect of Seroquel is weight neutral." Patterson also defended a Seroquel "strategy summary" that stated a sales goal of broadening use of the drug "on and off label," saying that the company has standards and procedures to ensure sales reps don't engage in off-label promotion.

Patterson's testimony took place at a hearing in Orlando, in one of the patient suits that allege AstraZeneca withheld evidence of a connection between Seroquel use and diabetes. Some of the suits also allege off-label marketing of the drug. Tony Jewell, a company spokesman, told Bloomberg that Seroquel's labeling has always contained alerts about possible weight gain. And, he said, the strategy summaries were discussing the company's intent to seek new indications for Seroquel use, not endorsing off-label promotion.

- read the Bloomberg story