Texas comes to terms with drug company in fraud-alleged litigation

AstraZeneca is not out of the woods yet.

Still, the multinational pharmaceutical company now has at least one foot in the proverbial clearing, following the formal termination of protracted litigation it was engaged in with the State of Texas.

That was in the form of two lawsuits brought by Texas authorities against AstraZeneca back in 2013 alleging the company’s wrongdoing in its advertising and sales of two drugs in the state.

Those offerings are Seroquel and Crestor, respectively. The former is an antipsychotic medication used to treat bipolar depression and schizophrenia. Crestor has proven ability to reduce high cholesterol levels.

The gist of the state’s claim concerning Seroquel is that the drugmaker impermissibly pushed its application for so-called “off label” uses. Doctors can lawfully prescribe medications for uses unapproved by regulators; drug companies cannot. Texas officials stated that AstraZeneca’s promotion of Seroquel for use in children has always been unlawful and ill-advised.

The claim concerning Crestor is quite straightforward. State health regulators say that AstraZeneca made fraudulent claims concerning treatment abilities that the drug never had.

AstraZeneca recently endorsed a settlement pact with Texas, agreeing to pay the state $110 million to settle both claims. That outcome can sensibly be regarded as a win for the company, given regulators’ insistence earlier in the litigation that a $5 billion penalty be paid.

As noted above, though, the settlement does not fully extinguish the company’s woes. AstraZeneca still faces whistleblower litigation in both Delaware and New York federal courts.

Reportedly, AstraZeneca has already been slapped with more than $1.3 billion in fines and penalties related to its hyping of Seroquel alone.