NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Drugmaker AstraZeneca announced a $355 million settlement Friday with the U.S. Justice Department over fraud charges related to the marketing of its cancer drug, Zoladex.
The settlement resolves a multi-year probe into allegations of deceptive marketing by the drugmaker and whether doctors were offered kickbacks to prescribe its prostate cancer drug, Zoladex.
Under the terms of the settlement, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals will admit to having violated the Prescription Drug Marketing Act by providing free samples of Zoladex to physicians during the period 1993 through 1996, with the understanding that these physicians would bill Medicare for reimbursement.
AstraZeneca also said it will settle, without admitting liability, civil claims involving allegations that the company provided inducements to physicians to purchase Zoladex and for improperly setting and reporting its price.
AstraZeneca said January it put aside $350 million "to cover potential settlement costs related to the previously disclosed investigations into the sales and marketing of Zoladex." The investigation began 1997.
"The settlement was in line with what we had expected," AstraZeneca spokeswoman Rachel Bloom-Baglin said. "We accept full responsibility for the improper samples that were handed out and for the company's conduct in the mid-1990s."
Zoladex accounted for $794 million in sales. The company's Web site says the drug is the second-largest selling drug of its kind in the world.
The London-based company last year logged sales of $17.8 billion.
AstraZeneca (AZN: Research, Estimates) ADRs [American depositary receipts] were down $1.08 to $43.08 on the New York Stock Exchange.