Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Sanofi Aventis face a wave of new complaints filed in recent weeks over gastrointestinal bleeding from Plavix (generic: clopidogrel bisulfate), a wildly successful blood thinning drug that has been prescribed to millions of Americans. In total, more than 80 new legal claims have been filed against the companies as part of multi-plaintiff lawsuits in New York and Illinois state court. Plaintiffs allege that the costly Plavix regimen may actually provide no greater benefit than taking aspirin, and that the drug exposes users to a host of extremely serious health risks.
What’s the problem?
The complaints, which include a lawsuit filed on behalf of 64 individuals in St. Clair County, Illinois, and a separate claim filed on behalf of 18 people in the Supreme Court of New York, allege that:
- Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Sanofi Aventis failed to adequately warn patients and the medical community about the risk of severe gastrointestinal bleeding or other problems from Plavix;
- The companies aggressively marketed the drug by making false claims about its effectiveness when compared to aspirin;
- The expensive Plavix treatment may actually provide no benefit over taking a four-cent-a-day aspirin for many patients, yet exposes users to a risk of serious side effects;
- The drug maker failed to warn that Plavix may not be effective for certain groups of users.
In addition to the gastrointestinal bleeding claims, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Sanofi Aventis also face Plavix lawsuits for injuries including:
- severe ulcers
- heart attacks
- thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (rare blood disorder)
In August 2011, the Supreme Court of New Jersey issued an order to consolidate all Plavix lawsuits before one judge in a multidistrict litigation (MDL). At the time, there were at least 40 Plavix lawsuits pending in New Jersey state court, but insiders suggested that there could be hundreds or even thousands of additional cases that would ultimately be filed on behalf of individuals who suffered gastrointestinal bleeding or other serious side effects after taking the medication.