Public relations and planning documents from AstraZeneca discuss promoting "off-label" or unapproved uses for the company's drug Seroquel. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Seroquel for schizophrenia, psychotic and bipolar disorders among adults. While doctors may prescribe drugs off-label, companies can't promote off-label uses for drugs. The AstraZeneca documents, which were uncovered during lawsuit proceedings, mention "plans to 'broaden Seroquel use on and off-label,' including among adolescents and patients with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, at medical meetings, in sales calls and with patient-advocacy groups." A 2001 company PR plan lists as a goal to "encourage and support" Seroquel "use outside schizophrenia into a broad range of other patient populations," suggesting "aggressive market penetration" among elderly and adolescent patients. AstraZeneca faces nearly 10,000 lawsuits claiming it hid evidence of Seroquel's side effects. The pharmaceutical company calls those allegations "unproven," and says it didn't engage in "inappropriate promotion of Seroquel." In January, fellow drugmaker Eli Lilly paid a $1.42 billion fine for off-label promotion of Zyprexa, a competitor to Seroquel.
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