The hot-selling blood-thinner Plavix is blamed for more than ten deaths in two Chicago lawsuits that charge the expensive drug is no better than aspirin, costs 100 times more and increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, internal bldding and other complications.
Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis promote the drug heavily for patients at risk of blood clots that could break loose and travel to the brain, heart or lungs -- a condition similar to that currently afflicting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Besides two lawsuits filed recently in Cook County Court in Chicago, at least 561 other lawsuits have been filed around the country, according to the Courthouse News Service database.
In one of the Cook County cases, lead plaintiff Geraldine Jackson charges the companies "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."
Jackson and other plaintiffs accuse Bristol-Myers and Sanofi-Aventis of deceiving consumers 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.
Three people died because they took Plavix, according to Jackson's lawsuit. Another lawsuit, filed the same day, claims that seven people died from the drug.