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AZ wins product liability case

A US state court jury has rejected claims by a Louisiana man that Seroquel caused his diabetes

AstraZeneca (AZ) has announced that a New Jersey (US) state court jury ruled in its favour by rejecting a Louisiana plaintiff's claims that Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate) caused his alleged injuries.  

The case, Baker versus AstraZeneca, was the first product liability case to go to trial, following dismissal by both federal and state court judges of nine previous cases prepared for trial. Approximately 2,600 additional cases have been abandoned by the plaintiffs' attorneys themselves.  

At the heart of these cases are unproven claims that Seroquel causes diabetes in individual plaintiffs, however plaintiffs have been unable to show through any accepted scientific method that AZ is responsible for their alleged injuries.

In the cases that have been prepared for trial to date, including the case decided by a jury in New Jersey, the facts show that the plaintiffs either already had diabetes or had so many pre-existing risk factors that they were already at a significantly increased risk of diabetes before they first took Seroquel.

Approved in 1997, Seroquel is an atypical antipsychotic used in the management of schizophrenia, bipolar I mania, bipolar II depression, bipolar I depression, and is used off-label for a variety of other purposes, including insomnia and anxiety disorders.

It is one of the top-10 selling drugs in the world, generating $4.87bn in sales in 2009 and accounting for 15 per cent of AZ's overall revenue.

The drug has come under fire for safety risks and questionable marketing practices. Past plaintiffs unearthed internal company documents showing that at least some employees knew of Seroquel's link to diabetes and played these down to avoid damaging marketing effort for the drug. AZ, however, claims that it studied Seroquel extensively and shared all appropriate and required data with the US Food and Drug Administration both before and after the agency first approved it in 1997.

22nd March 2010

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