For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: September 29, 2010

Idaho Receives More than $700,000 from Drug Marketing Settlement

(Boise) – The State of Idaho has received $702,846 from a legal settlement with AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said.

Wasden’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit joined with other states and the federal government in an agreement in April to settle allegations that AstraZeneca improperly promoted Seroquel, an antipsychotic drug.

Seroquel is used to treat certain psychological disorders. From 2001 through 2006, AstraZeneca promoted the sale and use of Seroquel for uses that the Food and Drug Administration had not approved. The settlement resolved an investigation into AstraZeneca’s promotional activities directed to psychiatrists, primary care physicians and other health care professionals for unapproved uses in the treatment of aggression, Alzheimer's disease, anger management, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dementia and sleeplessness. The settlement also resolved claims that AstraZeneca caused physicians to prescribe Seroquel for children, adolescents and dementia patients in long-term care facilities. Such uses were not medically accepted indications for which state Medicaid programs would approve reimbursement.

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.

AstraZeneca agreed to pay the states and the federal government $520 million in damages and penalties to compensate Medicaid and various federal health care programs. Half of Idaho’s share of the settlement will go to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Division of Medicaid, to reimburse the department for improper claims. The other half will go to the state’s general fund and will be available for appropriation by the Idaho Legislature.

A National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units team participated in the investigation and conducted the settlement negotiations on behalf of the settling states.

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