CHICAGO (CN) - Ten people died from the blockbuster blood-thinner Plavix, which is no better than aspirin against stroke but costs 100 times more, dozens of family members claim in two complaints.
Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis reaped annual U.S. sales of $3.8 billion from Plavix, pushing the drug in TV, magazine and Internet ads, while they "knew or should have known that when taking Plavix, the risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, internal bleeding, blood disorder, or death far outweigh any potential benefit," lead plaintiff Geraldine Jackson says.
At least 561 lawsuits have been filed over Plavix, according to the Courthouse News database. Rose Creighton is the lead plaintiff in the other most recently filed case. Both were filed in Cook County Court.
Quotations in this article are from Jackson's lawsuit, though the dozens of plaintiffs make similar claims in both cases - that Bristol-Myers and Sanofi-Aventis deceived the public by misrepresenting the risks of Plavix, which they knew about from their own studies.
"Plavix was heavily marketed directly to consumers through television, magazine and Internet advertising," the complaint states. "It was touted as a 'super-aspirin,' that would give a person even greater cardiovascular benefits than a much less expensive, daily aspirin while being safer and easier on a person's stomach than aspirin. Those assertions have proven to be false.
"The truth is, that BMS and Sanofi always knew, or if they had paid attention to the findings of their own studies, should have known, that Plavix was not more efficacious than aspirin to prevent heart attacks and strokes. More importantly though, defendants knew or should have known that when taking Plavix, the risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, internal bleeding, blood disorder, or death far outweigh any potential benefit."
Plavix is the sixth best-selling drug in the United States, with annual sales of $3.8 billion, although it works no better than aspirin in many cases, according to the complaint. A dose of Plavix costs $4, 100 times more than aspirin, at 4 cents a dose.
"Defendants' nearly eight-year run of lying to physicians and to the public about the safety and efficacy of Plavix for the sole purpose of increasing corporate profits has now been uncovered by scientific studies that reveal that not only is Plavix not worth its high price - it is dangerous," the complaint states.
A recent study "uncovered another truth about Plavix," the complaint adds. "It found that Plavix plus aspirin (dual therapy) is only minimally more effective than aspirin plus placebo at preventing atherothrombotic events. But more importantly, it found that in patients who do not have peripheral arterial disease (PAD) or acute coronary syndrome (ACS), Plavix plus aspirin (dual therapy) poses a 20 percent increased risk to the patient of suffering bleeding injuries, heart attacks, stroke and death. In other words, in those patients without ACS or PAD, dual therapy with aspirin and Plavix does more harm than good.
"Despite a growing body of scientific knowledge that the four-dollar ($4.00) Plavix pill was not much better than a four-cent-a-day aspirin, Defendants kept promoting it to the public and to physicians, using hyperbole and outright falsification in the process."
Three people died because they took Plavix, according to Jackson's lawsuit. Creighton's lawsuit, filed the same day, claims that seven people died from the drug.
"Defendants failed to fully, truthfully and accurately communicate the safety and efficacy of Plavix drug products and intentionally and fraudulently misled the medical community, physicians, plaintiffs' physicians and ingesting plaintiffs and decedents about the risks associated with Plavix," Jackson's complaint states.
The families seek punitive damages for products liability, manufacturing defect, failure to warn, negligence, loss of consortium and wrongful death.
All plaintiffs are represented by Steven Aroesty with Nafoli, Bern, Ripka, and Shkolnik, of Edwardsville, Ill.
Plavix has been prescribed to prevent stroke after operations, which may be caused by blood clots breaking loose and traveling toward the brain. It has been a drug of choice for conditions such as those being suffered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
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