The makers of the blood thinning drug Plavix face a St. Clair County lawsuit filed by 72 people who claim they suffered strokes and heart attacks after taking the drug.
Touted as a "super aspirin," Plavix can allegedly cause heart attacks, internal bleeding, strokes, blood disorders or death, according to the recently filed complaint.
The plaintiffs claim they suffered such maladies after taking Plavix, a drug manufactured by defendants Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and Sanofi Aventis.
Plaintiffs include Thomas Boyer of Missouri, Michael Briggs of Arkansas, Aflred Brown of Florida, David Chenault of Ohio, Johnny Clark of Alabama, Irene Colledge of South Carolina, Juan De La Rosa of Texas, Phyllis Jackson of Alabama, Elizabeth Lott of Mississippi, Dorothy Pogoreic of Ohio, Loretta Pollock of Florida, Daniel Creedon of Arkansas, Vera Mitchell of Illinois, Roger Griffin of Florida, Malcolm Lee of California, Joseph Duhon of California, Sara Brooks of Alabama, Darlene Olivares of Michigan, Mary Brown of Ohio, Beverly Wright of California, Lillian Lewis of Alabama, Arthur Petronio of New Mexico, Marianne Preble of North Carolina, George Wilson of Illinois, Shirley Swartzentruver of Pennsylvania, Ella Teague of Florida, Doris Walker of Louisiana, Yvonne Morgan of West Virginia, Cecilia Young of North Carolina, Wesley Byrd of Alabama, Rex Crossno of Arkansas, Hiram Biles of Michigan, Samuel Carroll of Missouri, Lydia Davis of Mississippi, Noel Deweese of South Carolina, Samuel Diaz of Texas, Betty Dixon of Tennessee, Ted Dover of Arkansas, Nirendu Dutt-Mazumdar of New York, Olivia Flores of Virginia, George Fortenberry of Mississippi, Rubylee Fortner of Florida, Phillip Gatt of Florida, Alicia Gonzalez of California, Sealee Hankins of Wisconsin, Margie Hardin of Georgia, Lessie Harris of Arizona, Michael Harris of Alabama, Jeannette Heitger of Indiana, George Hudnall of Pennsylvania, June Johnson of Florida, Stephen Kastor of Ohio, Cecelia Kerperien of Missouri, Donna Lewis of Utah, Charles Lowe of Mississippi, John MacLean of Connecticut, Mary McCaughan of Florida, Theodore McIntosh of California, Roland Modin of North Carolina, Gary Newman of Alabama, Carol Raines of Florida, James Russ of North Carolina, Donna Repp of California, Jerry Sinclair of Maryland, James Storey of Georgia, Steven Sura of North Carolina, Calvin Turnage of Tennessee, Thomas Velinske of New York, Nancy Washington of Louisiana, Michael Windland of New York and Nicholas Sokoloski of Connecticut.
Christopher Cueto of Belleville and Michael Gras of the Law Office of Christopher Cueto in Belleville and Robert L. Salim of Natchitoches, La., will be representing them.
They say they began taking the drug after its makers promoted the drug to be more effective than aspirin to prevent heart attacks and strokes. In addition, the companies said the drug "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," the suit states.
In addition, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi allegedly marketed their drug as safe for use with aspirin, although such a claim had not been established, the complaint says. In fact, the claim has been proven false, and the combined therapy is even more dangerous in patients who do not have peripheral arterial disease and acute coronary syndrome, the plaintiffs allege in their complaint.
The FDA has cracked down on Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi a number of times for this and other marketing ploys that misinformed patients and their physicians, according to the complaint.
"The result is that physicians are prescribing Plavix to people who could be cheaply and effectively protected against ischemic events by a simple aspirin, to pay approximately $4.00 a day for a dose of Plavix," the suit states.
"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 not only is Plavix not worth its high price -- it is dangerous."
As a result of their lies and omissions, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi have sold $3.8 billion worth of Plavix annually, the plaintiffs claim.
In addition to their exaggerated marketing claims, the makers of Plavix failed to adequately warn of the dangers of the drug in package inserts included in the medication's packaging, the suit states.
"Despite the growing body of scientific knowledge that the four-dollar 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," the suit states.
Because of the defendants' actions, the plaintiffs have suffered severe and permanent injuries in addition to their heart attacks, strokes, excessive bleeding and stent replacements, the complaint says. They also suffered physical impairment, disfigurement, physical pain and suffering; lost their enjoyment of life; and incurred medical costs, the plaintiffs claim.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege strict products liability, manufacturing defect, failure to warn and negligence against the defendants.
The plaintiffs seek economic and compensatory damages, plus costs, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just.
St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-13.