The makers of the popular pain reliever Plavix face a St. Clair County lawsuit filed by 64 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 complaint filed May 24 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Lead plaintiff John Alvarez and 63 others claim they or their deceased relatives suffered such maladies after taking Plavix, a drug manufactured by defendants Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and Sanofi Aventis.

Christopher Cueto and Michael Gras of Belleville and Robert L. Salim of Natchitoches, La., will be representing them.

The plaintiffs 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 manufacturers 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.

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi allegedly marketed their drug as safe for a wide range of people who could receive the same benefits from taking an aspirin once per day, the complaint says.

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, the complaint says.

"Despite the growing body of scientific knowledge that the four-dollar Plavix pill was not much better than 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.

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.

Because of the defendants' actions, the plaintiffs have suffered severe and permanent injuries, 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-279.

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