Drug Maker to Pay $520 Million in Fraud Case

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A drug company has agreed to pay a $520 million fine for unethical marketing practices.

Attorney General Eric Holder said AstraZeneca illegally marketed Seroquel, a schizophrenia drug, for uses the Food and Drug Administration had not approved.

"These were not victimless crimes -- illegal acts by pharmaceutical companies and false claims against Medicare and Medicaid can put the public health at risk, corrupt medical decisions by health care providers, and take billions of dollars directly out of taxpayers' pockets," Holder said Tuesday at a news conference announcing the settlement.

The Department of Justice said the practice turned patients into guinea pigs in unsupervised drug tests. It also said AstraZeneca gave kickbacks to doctors who prescribed the drug for unapproved uses, like treating Alzheimer's and anger management.

The company denied the allegations, saying it settled the case so it could get on with business.

"While we deny the allegations, AstraZeneca takes its obligations very seriously under its agreements with the government," Glenn Engelmann, AstraZeneca's U.S. General counsel, said. "The company is committed to meeting the expectations and obligations of a leading biopharmaceutical company, while continuing to provide valuable medicines to millions of patients."

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