Judge ushers Arkansas Seroquel suit forward

AstraZeneca ($AZN) must have its day in Arkansas court. Circuit Judge Chris Piazza determined the U.K.-based drugmaker must face a lawsuit filed by the Arkansas attorney general, who alleges that the state spent too much on the antipsychotic drug Seroquel because it was misled by the company's marketing.

The Arkansas suit resembles claims filed by a group of other states, which together agreed to settle with AstraZeneca for $68.5 million. Arkansas opted out of that deal, preferring to pursue its claims on its own. AG Dustin McDaniel alleges that AZ defrauded Arkansas' Medicaid program by failing to fully disclose Seroquel's risks--including weight gain and diabetes--in the drug's labeling. The suit seeks $5,000 for every Seroquel prescription over an 11-year period, Bloomberg reports.

The court has set a trial for September 2012. AstraZeneca spokesman Tony Jewell told the news service that the company will be "fully vindicated as the case progresses."

As Bloomberg notes, the Arkansas suit is just one small part of the Seroquel legal headache. The company has agreed to pay almost $1 billion to resolve a host of lawsuits, including $345 million in patient lawsuits and several hundred million in an off-label marketing settlement with the Justice Department.

- read the Bloomberg coverage