AZ settles 200 Seroquel cases for $2M

In its first move to settle some of its Seroquel liability suits, AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) has agreed to pay $2 million to 200 plaintiffs, Bloomberg reports. That works out to more than $10,000 per plaintiff, which is a lot less than other drugmakers are paying to settle lawsuits over their atypical antipsychotics.

Analysts hailed the arrangment, reached in court-ordered mediation. UBS analyst Gbola Amusa tells Bloomberg, "The amount of the settlement implies a very low liability, much lower than the $1 billion to $2 billion range we expected a couple years ago."

So why the difference? The deal comes after AstraZeneca won its first jury trial in a Seroquel liability case, and three other cases were tossed by a Delaware judge for lack of evidence. Legal experts say that plaintiffs' lawyers may be second-guessing their cases. "It also may be a reflection of the difficulty the plaintiffs are having in getting these cases to trial," Carl Tobias, a mass-tort law expert, tells the news service. "The plaintiffs have to be asking themselves after the New Jersey trial whether they can win one of these."

But lawyers for the plaintiffs say they're not rolling over. "This litigation is not going to go away at $10,000 a case, I can assure you," Paul Pennock, who's representing 2,200 plaintiffs, tells the Delaware News-Journal. Pennock also represented the losing plaintiff in the sole jury trial.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca wouldn't comment on the settlement, saying that the mediation process is confidential. A spokesman did tell the News-Journal that the company has "multiple mediation sessions scheduled throughout the summer."

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ALSO: AstraZeneca may double spending on share buybacks this year after a legal victory protecting the patent on the Crestor cholesterol pill freed up more cash, analysts said. Report