We reported last week that Judge Anne Conway, who’s overseeing the Seroquel MDL, had granted summary judgment in favor of AstraZeneca in the bellwether cases involving the first two plaintiffs. She had not yet issued her written decision at that time.
She still hasn’t entered that written decision. (We just couldn’t leave you hanging there.)
But she did choose to rule on AstraZeneca’s motions in limine, and the news there is good for the defense. Here’s a link to Judge Conway’s one order that decides AstraZeneca’s six motions.
Since Bexis is involved in the Seroquel cases, he’s recused himself from this report. Herrmann alone gets to describe the happy result.
AstraZeneca moved first to exclude evidence and argument about alleged “ghostwriting” of articles in scientific journals. Judge Conway split the baby, holding that plaintiffs cannot use the words “ghostwriting” or “plagiarism” to characterize the process by which articles were written, but plaintiffs can present evidence that third parties prepared drafts of certain articles authored by physicians. In re Seroquel Prods. Liab. Litig., No. 6:06-md-1769-Orl-22DAB, slip op. at 3-5 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 30, 2009).
AstraZeneca moved, second, to exclude evidence about the alleged risks of Seroquel in pediatric and geriatric populations. Because none of the plaintiffs in the first trial group fell into either of those populations, the court granted that motion. Id. at 5.
AstraZeneca moved, third, to exclude evidence of alleged misconduct (including criminal misconduct resulting in incarceration) of two clinical investigators of Seroquel. The court found that the alleged financial improprieties had nothing to do with the credibility of AstraZeneca’s testing and the evidence was more prejudicial than probative. The court thus granted the motion to exclude that evidence. Id. at 7.
AstraZeneca moved, fourth, to exclude evidence about three letters the FDA’s Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communications (DDMAC) sent to AstraZeneca discussing certain of AstraZeneca’s promotional materials. The court held that the plaintiffs’ prescribing physicians had never been exposed to the challenged promotional materials and so granted the motion to exclude. Id. at 8.
AstraZeneca moved, fifth, to exclude evidence of Seroquel’s labeling in countries outside the United States and regulatory actions taken overseas. The court found the foreign materials to be irrelevant and, if minimally relevant, more prejudicial than probative, and so excluded them. Id. at 10-12.
Finally, AstraZeneca moved to exclude evidence of its settlement with the federal government relating to its pricing of another drug, Zoladex. The court again found the evidence to be irrelevant and, if relevant, more prejudicial than probative. Id. at 13.
Those rulings might seem less important in light of the court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of AstraZeneca. In reality, however, the decisions will control the introduction of evidence in any cases that survive the summary judgment ruling (or are resurrected on appeal) and may well influence state court judges faced with similar issues at trial.
All in all, last Friday was a pretty good day for AstraZeneca.