Plaintiff claims Seroquel caused pancreatitis in federal suit

Steve Gonzalez May 1, 2006, 12:10pm

John Driscoll

Billy Robbins filed a 10-count suit against AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals alleging the prescription drug Seroquel caused her to develop pancreatitis.

Seroquel is an anti-psychotic medication in the class of drugs referred to as atypical anti-psychotics. Other drugs in the class are Zyprexa, Risperdal, and Abilify.

According to the complaint filed in federal court April 28, Seroquel has been known to cause serious and sometimes fatal injuries to the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Its adverse effects include ketoacidosis, pancreatitis, and diabetes mellitus and other serious health problems including heart disease, blindness, coma, seizures, coma and death.

Robbins claims tha when Seroquel was placed into the stream of commerce in 1997, it was not accompanied with adequate warnings regarding the significant hyperlipidemia risks associated with the ingestion of Seroquel, particularly hypertriglyceridemia, and resultant pancreatitis.

"The warnings given by the defendant did not accurately reflect the existence of the risk, let alone the incidence, symptoms, scope, or severity of such injuries," the complaint states.

Robbins also claims the AstraZeneca failed to perform proper testing concerning the safety of Seroquel and that proper testing would have shown that it poses a serious risk of pancreatic-related problems which would have permitted adequate and appropriate warnings to be given by AstraZeneca.

"AstraZeneca had a duty to exercise reasonable care in the design, manufacture, sale, and distribution of the drug, Seroquel, including a duty to assure that the product did not cause users to suffer from unreasonable, dangerous side effects when used alone or in foreseeable combination with other drugs," the complaint states.

Robbins claims AstraZeneca failed to use reasonable care to design an atypical anti-psychotic that was safe for its intended and foreseeable uses, not defective, and not unreasonably dangerous and failed to use reasonable care in designing and manufacturing Seroquel as to make it safe for its intended uses.

He also claims AstraZeneca failed to use reasonable care to make reasonable tests, inspections, drug trials and evaluations, failed to comply with FDA recommendations and government regulations, negligently marketed Seroquel despite the risks that were so high and the benefits of the drug were so speculative that no reasonable pharmaceutical company, exercising due care, would have done so.

Robbins further claims that AstraZeneca failed to use reasonable alternative designs, failed to warn him of the dangers, failed to conduct adequate pre-clinical testing and post-marketing surveillance to determine the safety of Seroquel and failed to provide adequate training and information to medical care providers for the appropriate use of Seroquel.

"Despite the fact that AstraZeneca knew or should have known that Seroquel caused unreasonable, dangerous side effects which many users would be unable to remedy by any means, AstraZeneca continued to market Seroquel to consumers, including the plaintiff, when there were safer alternate methods available," the complaint states.

Robbins also alleges that AstraZeneca's carelessness directly impacted him in that he was induced to purchase and ingest a defective and dangerous medication.

"Robbins has suffered and will continue to suffer emotional distress and anxiety from the fear of knowing there is a likelihood of serious complications or death from pancreatitis, which was caused by AstraZeneca's drug Seroquel," the complaint alleges.

He also claims that AstraZeneca was under a duty to disclose that Seroquel was dangerous and not as effective for its purpose as represented, but failed to disclose the information constituting common law fraud.

Robbins claims the deliberate and intentional omissions of material facts and misrepresentations include:

  • suppressing, failing to disclose and mischaracterizing the known risks of Seroquel;
  • omitting material information showing that Seroquel was no more effective than other drugs on the market already available;
  • failure to timely and fully disclose the actual results of clinical tests and studies related to Seroquel; and
  • failure to disclose that adequate and/or standard and generally accepted standards for post-marketing testing had not been done.

    "Robbins did not know, and could not learn, the material facts and important information AstraZeneca omitted and suppressed," the complaint alleges.

    Robbins also alleges that AstraZeneca has been unjustly enriched in the amounts of the profits they have earned as a result of their conduct," the complaint states.

    He also claims AstraZeneca engaged in deceptive acts or practices in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act by failing to communicate and notify him and the medical community at large of the negative efficacy and safety information they possessed.

    Robbins claims that as a result of AstraZeneca negligence, carelessness, and other wrongdoing, he suffered physical injury, medical expense, future medical expenses, loss of consortium, services, love and affection and has incurred financial expenses and economic losses.

    Represented by John Driscoll of Brown & Crouppen in St. Louis, Robbins is seeking damages in excess of $750,000, plus all costs of the suit.

    The case has been assigned to Chief District Judge G. Patrick Murphy.


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