West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has stepped aside from a lawsuit against drug company Sanofi for false marketing of the blood thinner Plavix, after it came to light that he formerly lobbied for Sanofi in Washington, D.C.
Morrisey recused himself from the state’s lawsuit against Sanofi last Monday, the same day that the Charleston, West Virginia Gazette-Mail submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to his office for information about the lawsuit. Morrisey was a lobbyist for Sanofi from 2006 to 2008, according to federal lobbying disclosure forms. Morrisey’s wife, Denise Henry, has lobbied for Sanofi since 2005.
In late December, then-Attorney General Darrell McGraw filed a lawsuit against Sanofi and Bristol-Myers Squibb, alleging the companies falsely marketed the blood-thinner Plavix. Morrisey took office 17 days after the lawsuit was filed. More than a dozen other states have similar lawsuits, alleging that Sanofi engaged in deceptive marketing in its claims that Plavix is superior to aspirin for specific treatments. Plavix is about 100 times more expensive than aspirin, according to the complaint. The West Virginia suit alleges the drug companies violated West Virginia’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act, and made misrepresentations to the state Public Employees Insurance Agency, the Gazette-Mail reports.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Plavix, a blood thinner, to help “reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by making it less likely that platelets in the blood will clump and form clots in the arteries.” But recent research has cast doubt on whether Plavix helps prevent repeated strokes, whether taken alone or in combination with aspirin. The Plavix-aspirin combination can increase the likelihood of serious gastrointestinal bleeding and death, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.