April 27, 2010
• Posted in

The national settlement totals $520 million

Attorney General John Kroger announced today that a multi-million national off-label marketing settlement with AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals will put $5,679,011 into the Oregon Health Plan. The $520 million national settlement between the company, the federal government and the states settles allegations that AstraZeneca engaged in an off-label marketing campaign that improperly promoted the antipsychotic drug, Seroquel.

“This $5.7 million will help us provide health care to Oregonians during this recession,” said Attorney General Kroger.

Seroquel is one of a newer generation of antipsychotic medications (called atypical antipsychotics) used to treat certain psychological disorders. From January 1, 2001 through December 31, 2006, AstraZeneca promoted the sale and use of Seroquel for certain uses that the Food and Drug Administration had not approved. The settlement resolves a government investigation into promotional activities undertaken by AstraZeneca that were directed not only to psychiatrists but also to primary care physicians and other health care professionals for unapproved uses in the treatment of medical conditions such as aggression, Alzheimer’s disorder, anger management, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dementia and sleeplessness.

In implementing its marketing campaign, AstraZeneca was also alleged to have made illegal payments to physicians, paying their way to travel to resort locations to “advise” AstraZeneca about marketing messages for unapproved uses, to serve as authors of articles written by AstraZeneca and its agents and to conduct studies for unapproved uses of Seroquel. The settlement resolves claims that, as a result of these promotional activities, AstraZeneca caused physicians to prescribe Seroquel for children, adolescents and dementia patients in long term care facilities, which are uses that were not medically accepted indications for which state Medicaid programs would approve reimbursement.

As part of the settlement, AstraZeneca will enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, which will closely monitor the company’s future marketing and sales practices. The settlement, which includes damages and penalties, will compensate Medicaid and various federal healthcare programs for harm suffered as a result of this conduct.

Oregon participated in the settlement through the Oregon Department of Justice Medicaid Fraud Unit. In addition to recovering money for the Oregon Health Plan, the Medicaid Fraud Unit investigates and prosecutes billing fraud, physical and financial abuse in Medicaid-funded facilities and fraud committed by Medicaid program employees.

Oregon is a national leader in the fight against health care fraud. In 2009, the Department of Justice secured settlements that brought more than $20 million in health care fraud cases to reimburse the Oregon Health Plan, enhance state consumer protection efforts and help balance the state budget.

Attorney General John Kroger leads the Oregon Department of Justice. The Department’s mission is to fight crime and fraud, protect the environment, improve child welfare, promote a positive business climate, and defend the rights of all Oregonians.


Tony Green, (503) 378-6002 |