AstraZeneca is preparing for a products liability trial next week over claims that their antipsychotic medication Seroquel causes diabetes. About 26,000 lawsuits have been filed against the drugmaker, with one of many trials set for February 16th in New Jersey. That trial will be the first of thousands filed in New Jersey alone. Seroquel is the UK-based drugmaker’s second most popular drug after Nexium, the well known heartburn relief medication, and is used to treat bipolar disorder and depression. AstraZeneca claims that the plaintiffs’ evidence is insufficient to show that the drug was responsible for their alleged personal injuries.
In January, U.S. District Judge Anne Conway, who is overseeing all federal Seroquel litigation, ordered the parties to attend mediation. The parties were unable to reach a settlement agreement after two days of talks. The mediator, George Washington University Law Professor Stephen Saltzberg, said he expects further settlement negotiations to occur. Judge Conway, who sits in Florida, has said that she will ask a panel of judges to return the 6,000 consolidated cases scheduled to come before her to their resident states, adding to the litigation headache.
Seroquel was introduced in 1997 and has long been linked to weight gain and diabetes. The plaintiffs are claiming that AstraZeneca downplayed the risk of diabetes, cherry-picked positive trial results, and buried negative results. Documents discovered in 2009 appear to substantiate the plaintiffs’ claims. As early as 1997, emails between AstraZeneca officials reveal that the drugmaker hid negative trial results from US and Canadian investigators. AstraZeneca is not the first antipsychotic drugmaker to be hit with claims that its medication causes diabetes. In 2009, Zyprexra-maker Eli Lilly agreed to pay at least $1.2 billion to similar settle lawsuits filed by about 31,000 patients.
For more information on Seroquel side effects, see the Seroquel website. The Alliance for Human Research Protection has a collection of articles on the Seroquel product liability litigation.