Thursday, February 26, 2009

Seroquel Case: Must AstraZeneca Tell All?

In more lawsuits, companies are being forced to reveal internal information during the pretrial discovery phase that otherwise would be kept private

A showdown is looming in a Florida courtroom over an issue that has long bedeviled business: How much internal information can a company be forced to make public simply because it has become a defendant in a lawsuit?

In federal court in Orlando, drugmaker AstraZeneca (AZN) is battling to keep confidential thousands of pages of correspondence, studies, and other material related to its blockbuster antipsychotic drug Seroquel. On Feb. 13, Bloomberg News, invoking "the public's right of access to judicial documents," asked the court to unseal selected filings. A hearing on the request is scheduled for Feb. 26.

The battle grows out of claims by consumers who allege that AstraZeneca didn't adequately disclose that Seroquel can trigger serious weight gain and diabetes. There is also an unusual allegation of sexual misconduct that AstraZeneca is trying to keep contained by arguing that it is irrelevant and should be kept from a jury. More than 6,000 Seroquel cases have been consolidated in the Florida case.


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