British drugmaker AstraZeneca is facing allegations in the US that it buried warnings from its own scientists regarding possible side-effects of the antipsychotic drug Seroquel.
Internal documents allegedly reveal that marketing directors made strenuous efforts to spin the positive effects of the drug while suppressing its side-effects.
The documents are to be released as part of US lawsuits brought by patients alleging that they have been harmed by the drug, which is prescribed for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Houston lawyer Ed Blizzard, who is helping to represent 6,000 Seroquel plaintiffs, said data “was either spun or skewed or outright concealed” that showed Seroquel was “not very effective” and had serious side-effects.
Their case may have been strengthened by a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finding that side-effects such as weight gain, high blood sugar and potential heart problems rule out Seroquel as a first choice for depression or anxiety.
A split vote by a panel of FDA scientific advisers said that Seroquel should only be used as an additional therapy by patients whose depression is not relieved by other drugs.
Copyright Press Association 2009