The New Jersey Superior Court Case (Middlesex County) of Baker v. AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP is now focusing on the drug manufacturer’s advertising strategy. The plaintiff, in that case, is alleging that he should have been better warned about the risks for weight gain and developing diabetes.
On the plaintiff’s side is Dr. Wayne Geller, a former AstraZeneca employee—a global safety officer—who testified that the company rebuffed his efforts to strengthen internal documents describing the weight gain issue. He testified that “I found out there were people from the commercial side” who opposed the changes. This is another indication of marketing trumping. AstraZeneca is defending the case, noting that it adequately warned about the risk of diabetes and that Seroquel doesn’t cause diabetes, anyway. They rely on several studies that showed favorable data, but other reports show average weight gain for users on Seroquel is 27 pounds.
Related to the issue is AstraZeneca’s announcement that it is ending research and development of psychiatric medications at the U.S. headquarters. There is no indication of how much of the research will be done elsewhere, or whether that specific research will just be ended, altogether.
And finally, AstraZeneca has taken a hit in the U.K., where the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority decided that AstraZeneca unethically failed to accurately describe the side effects of Seroquel in a British Journal of Psychiatry advertisement in 2004. The ad favorably compared weight gain in Seroquel users to those of other antipsychotic drugs. The company contends that intended readers of the magazine would know that Seroquel caused weight gain.
For more information on Seroquel, please visit our Seroquel blog posts.
If you or a loved one have suffered because of this drug—weight gain, diabetes or pancreatitis, please contact us at 1.800.553.8082, or click here for an internet consultation.