\AstraZeneca Plc may face as many 6,000 trials of lawsuits claiming its antipsychotic drug Seroquel causes diabetes after a judge said she will recommend sending the cases back to their home courts. U.S. District Judge Anne Conway in Orlando, Florida, who is overseeing pre-trial proceedings in federal Seroquel litigation, said yesterday she’ll urge a panel of judges to return all of the cases to courts across the U.S. for possible trials. In Re Seroquel Products Litigation, 06-MD- 01769, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida.
The company faces more than 14,000 suits in U.S. state and federal courts alleging Seroquel caused diabetes in some users. Seroquel, which generated sales of $4.45 billion in 2008, is AstraZeneca’s second-biggest seller after the ulcer treatment Nexium. AstraZeneca officials noted in regulatory filings last month that the drugmaker could face the first trials of Seroquel suits in state courts in Delaware and New Jersey in January. The company also disclosed it has spent $623 million in “legal defense costs” for Seroquel litigation so far.
AstraZeneca, the U.K.’s second-largest drugmaker, wanted Judge Conway to send as many as 60 suits back to their home courts for trial as test cases. Lawyers for former users contended they were ready to press forward on their claims that the London- based company downplayed Seroquel’s diabetes risk.
“While providing the prospect of lifetime employment for AstraZeneca’s attorneys, AstraZeneca’s plan is also plainly designed to permit AstraZeneca to prolong resolution of this litigation,” Camp Bailey, a Houston-based lawyer for Seroquel users, said in a Nov. 6 court filing.