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Plavix: New round of drug suits on the way?

The New Jersey Law Journal (via Law.com) reports that two law firms (from Alexandria, VA and San Francisco) have filed a couple of suits in plaintiff-friendly New Jersey concerning Plavix.

Among the plaintiffs is Eloise LaBarr of Bonifay, Florida, whose husband Edward began taking Plavix with aspirin after bypass surgery with a stent placement to repair a blocked artery in November 2002. In December 2004, he collapsed after suffering a serious intracranial bleeding injury and died two days later, with a subdural hematoma and "Plavix therapy" listed as the causes on his death certificate, according to the complaint.

The suit claims that Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis US marketed Plavix in disregard of risks to patients with "multiple risk factors", defined as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Plaintiffs' lawyers promise that more suits are on the way, and that many plaintiffs were in their 40s and 50s, implying that this will make cause-in-fact easier to prove.

Back in March, at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology,one study found that Plavix treatment increased risks for certain patients. Of patients with high cholesterol and blood pressure, 3.9% of Plavix users died vs. 2.2% on placebo. [For those without "multiple risk factors", the study found, Plavix works, especially if the patient had suffered previous heart attacksor strokes.]

I have been told that the Plavix warning sheet prominently mentions risks for "multiple risk factor" patients. This is why I think the plaintiffs' lawyers have emphasized "overmarketing" -- they claim that massive advertising of the drug led physicians to overlook the risks of prescribing Plavix.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.