Plavix Lawsuits can Proceed, California Supreme Court Rules

Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

A recent court decision pushes the Plavix litigation forward. Plavix patients and their family members can bring personal injury lawsuits against drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb despite the fact that the company and most of the plaintiffs are based in other states, the California Supreme Court ruled. Plavix is an anticoagulant used to reduce the risk of blood clots. It is prescribed to patients who recently suffered cardiovascular events, such as a heart attack or stroke.

Plaintiffs in the litigation allege that Bristol-Myers Squibb touted the benefits of Plavix but failed to disclose the risks to patients and physicians. Lawsuits allege that Plavix is not as effective as the drug maker claimed, and ultimately put some patients at unnecessary risk. Alleged injuries include heart attack, stroke, cerebral hemorrhaging, gastrointestinal bleeding and death.

The California Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that a nationwide lawsuit could proceed. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of 86 Californians and 592 residents among 33 other states. Unless the case is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, it would proceed in San Francisco Superior Court.

According to SFGate, 18 cases involved patients who died after using Plavix. The wrongful death lawsuits and other claims allege that Plavix makers failed to adequately disclose the risks.

In announcing their decision, the court majority reasoned that the manufacturer did a substantial amount of business with California. Bristol-Myers Squibb has five research and laboratory facilities and 250 salespeople in the state. From 2006 to 2012, Californians generated Plavix sales of nearly $918 million.

Last month, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas filed a lawsuit against Bristol-Myers Squibb alleging that the company failed to disclose an increased risk of bleeding with Plavix. BMS falsely marketed the drug and misled patients and doctors about its safety, the AG alleged. Specifically, the suit focuses on the fact that Plavix is ineffective in a certain percentage of the population. Allegedly, the drug maker was aware of this but failed to inform the public, placing these individuals at increased risk for bleeding. “Companies like this must be held accountable for deceiving the public and profiteering off of taxpayer monies and vulnerable New Mexicans who badly need safe, effective medical treatment.” said Balderas in a Sept. 15th press release.