AstraZeneca in $198m claim payout

Image caption, Seroquel has proved to be one of AstraZeneca's best sellers

Drug giant AstraZeneca is to pay $198m to settle 17,500 US personal injury claims related to its schizophrenia and bipolar disorder drug Seroquel.

Seroquel was launched in 1997 and has been one of the firm's top earners. It had worldwide sales of $4.9bn in 2009, accounting for 15% of group revenue.

Thousands have sued the firm in US courts, claiming the anti-psychotic drug caused weight gain and diabetes.

The average sum of $11,300 per claim is less than some past medical payouts.

'Best interest'

The group said the agreements would not affect its 2010 outlook for "core" earnings.

"We believe it was in the best interest of the company to explore resolving these cases through the mediation process," said a company spokeswoman.

"We remain committed to a strong defence effort, but will also continue to participate in good faith in court-ordered mediation."

Despite the payout announcement, shares in the firm closed 1.5% higher at 3,305p in London.

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