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May 27, 2011
State mental health programs healed by drug company settlement

OLYMPIA – Washington state mental health programs will receive a $1.57 million lift thanks to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division’s role in regulating unfair marketing practices by a global drug manufacturer.

To help offset state budget shortfalls, the Attorney General’s Office worked closely with Legislative budget writers to allocate settlement funds to the state Department of Social and Health Services and the state Health Care Authority to support the following services:

  • $700,000 solely for the University of Washington's Evidence-Based Practice Institute, which supports the identification, evaluation and implementation of evidence-based or promising practices for serving children and youth with mental health disorders.
  • $300,000 for a project to improve prescription practices and promote collaboration among community mental health centers, psychiatrists, pharmacists and university research programs. The project will include seminars, patient-specific prescriber consultations by experts specializing in treatment of severe and persistent adult mental illnesses and the creation of profiles to assist providers in tracking patients’ medication use.
  • $570,000 to allow continued operation of a prescriber access line for child mental health consultations.

The Attorney General’s office announced in March that states had reached the largest multistate, consumer protection settlement ever with a pharmaceutical company. UK-based AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, LP, agreed to pay a record $68.5 million to settle allegations of marketing the antipsychotic drug Seroquel to treat unapproved conditions in children and elderly patients.

Washington received more than $1.6 million from the settlement. A small portion was kept to recover the state’s costs for the investigation and litigation. The court agreement permits the remaining funds to be distributed by the Attorney General’s Office to support programs that promote mental health or address the proper use of prescription drugs. The agreement does not provide for restitution for individual consumers.

Earlier this year, the Attorney General’s Office contributed $772,000 from its settlement with Intelius to aid the state general fund.

State Budget Details (PDF – see pages 15, 18, 76, 77)

News Release: States reach record $68.5 million settlement with Seroquel maker 

News Release: State general fund benefits from Intelius’ bad business practice 

Media Contact: Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager, (206) 464-6432,
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