Seroquel, with a reported $4.9 billion in sales in 2009, has been widely utilized for treatment of psychotic disorders such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. In the present case, the plaintiff was a 61-year-old Vietnam veteran who took the drug for treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder. He is one of thousands of users of the drug who allege that AstraZeneca causes diabetes and that the company failed to adequately warn patients of that risk.
Not surprisingly, the huge volume of litigation over the drug has resulted in “millions of pages” of discovery material. The New York Times reports that among those millions of pages were at least two seemingly explosive emails. The first of those, it reports, was a 1997 message from an AstraZeneca official in which he praised the work of the company’s physician for minimizing adverse conclusions regarding the drug in a “cursed” study. Specifically, he reportedly wrote: “Lisa has done a great ‘smoke-and-mirrors’ job!” The second of those emails was written in 1999, two years after the drug was approved for use in the United States. In it, the company’s publications manager reportedly wrote: “The larger issue is how do we face the outside world when they begin to criticize us for suppressing data.”