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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 16947

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Electronic Source

Silverman E
AstraZeneca Is ‘More Sensitive’ About Illegal Marketing
Pharmalot 2009 Dec 22

Full text:

All those big fines are prompting some drugmakers to say they’ve found religion. For instance, Pfizer ceo Jeff Kindler recently gave a speech about corporate trust (watch it here). Now, AstraZeneca’s Dave Brennan confesses that his company is “more sensitive than we’ve ever been” about preventing illegal promotion of their drugs ever since it paid a $520 million to settle a US probe marketing of its Seroqeul schizophrenia med.
Off-label marketing has become “a much bigger issue in the last few years as a result of the government’s position on this,” he tells The Wall Street Journal. “If you go back ten years in this industry, this was not an issue. I mean, we trained our people not to promote off-label…so it’s always been sensitive. But now, it’s even more sensitive because we’re paying fines.” The fine, by the way, was $520 million. Last year, Seroquel generated $4.5 billion in revenue.
The drugmaker faces numerous lawsuits over its Seroquel marketing and documents released by plaintiffs attorneys allegedly showed AstraZeneca execs discussed broadening the market to include adolescents and patients with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and at medical meetings, in sales calls and with patient-advocacy groups, the Journal writes.
The goal of an AstraZeneca public-relations plan from 2001 was to “encourage and support…use outside schizophrenia into a broad range of other patient populations including bipolar disorder and the elderly.” It also said there needed to be “aggressive market penetration” among adolescents, the elderly and patients with bipolar disorder for Seroquel to outsell rival meds. The FDA didn’t approve the pill for bipolar disorder until 2006, the Journal reminds us.
In response, Brennan tells the Journal: “There were a wide variety of documents. Stuff that said we don’t promote off-label. Others that said different things. You know, that’s just the nature of how business runs over ten or twenty years. There’s millions of documents floating around. I don’t have any particular comment” on individual documents.


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