State Of Mississippi Thwarts Appeal Attempt By Seroquel Maker

The Mississippi Supreme Court last Friday rejected an appeal by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals L.P. and related defendants, makers of the powerful antipsychotic drug Seroquel, in which the drugmaker attempted to have thrown out of court a consumer rights action brought by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood on behalf of the State of Mississippi (the “State”). The high court wrote in its July 16, 2014 order that AstraZeneca’s petition for interlocutory appeal and for a stay of the litigation, while the appeal was pending, was “not well taken and should be denied.”

In the rejected appeal, AstraZeneca argued to the Mississippi Supreme Court that the State’s consumer protection case violated AstraZeneca’s First Amendment rights to promote its drug Seroquel, and also that the State was required to plead and prove irreparable harm in order to secure an injunction against AstraZeneca. The State alleges in the underlying case that AstraZeneca falsely and deceptively promoted and marketed Seroquel to Mississippi doctors and patients without revealing serious health risks associated with the drug. The State successfully argued that AstraZeneca’s First Amendment contentions were without merit under existing United States Supreme Court and Mississippi Supreme Court precedent, and that AstraZeneca had misinterpreted the scope of the Mississippi Attorney General’s powers to seek injunctive relief.

The case is Hood v. AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals L.P., et al., No. 61CH:11-cv-02255, pending in the Rankin County Chancery Court. The State is represented by the Office of the Attorney General, as well as the law firms of Bailey Cowan Heckaman in Houston, Texas and McCraney Montagnet Quin & Noble PLLC of Ridgeland, Mississippi.

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