(Reuters) - AstraZeneca Plc has agreed to a $26 million settlement with the state of South Carolina to settle a lawsuit accusing it of misleading consumers about the risks associated with taking the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel.
The lawsuit, filed in 2009, was one of several pursued by state attorneys general related to the drug. The settlement was reached Wednesday, according to court papers.
“After years of costly litigation, we decided that settling this case was the appropriate way to resolve the matter and allow the company to focus on our core mission of delivering meaningful medicines to patients,” Tony Jewell, a spokesman for AstraZeneca, said in a statement on Friday.
Bryan Stirling, deputy attorney general for South Carolina, said the accord reflected “a total settlement of all claims.”
AstraZeneca neither admitted nor denied the state’s allegations as part of the settlement. The settlement includes $20 million in damages, $5 million in penalties and $1 million in costs.
The settlement was just the latest effort by the AstraZeneca to put regulatory probes into its sales and marketing practices related to Seroquel behind it.
AstraZeneca agreed to a $68.5 million settlement with 37 states in March 2011, almost a year after reaching a $520 million accord with federal regulators including the U.S. Justice Department stemming from its off-label marketing of Seroquel.
Seven states including South Carolina did not join the settlement and continued to pursue their own claims.
The company has since then reached settlement agreements with six of those states, according to its quarterly reports. A lawsuit by Mississippi remains pending.
On August 9 the company said it executed a settlement agreement with New Mexico’s attorney general in June and that same month reached an agreement in principle with Utah’s attorney general.
A spokesman for the company said it agreed to pay New Mexico $3.8 million. Phil Sisneros, a spokesman for New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, confirmed a “there is a tentative settlement in place” but said it had not been finalized and declined to provide further details.
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff had no immediate comment.
The case is State of South Carolina v. AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, LP, et al, Court of Common Pleas for the Seventh Judicial Circuit in South Carolina, 2009-CP-42-00097.
Reporting By Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Tim Dobbyn
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