Lawsuit Alleges False Marketing of Plavix

false_marketing_plavixThe West Virginia Attorney General (AG) and his wife both lobbied for Sanofi, the maker of Plavix and a firm his office is suing.

AG Patrick Morrisey just recused himself from his office’s lawsuit against Sanofi after it was revealed that both he and his wife lobbied for Sanofi; his wife’s firm has been lobbying for Sanofi on Capitol Hill since 2005, according to the Gazette-Mail. During the same time that Morrisey’s office was handling the lawsuit, Sanofi paid $180,000 to Henry’s Washington, D.C. lobbying firm, Capitol Counsel, according to federal filings. In fact, Henry’s firm has taken in over $1.3 million from Sanofi since 2010.

Meanwhile, last December, the Attorney General’s Office, under former attorney general Darrell McGraw, filed a lawsuit against both Sanofi and Bristol-Myers Squibb over allegations that the two firms falsely marketed the blood-thinner Plavix (clopidogrel); at least another dozen states have filed similar lawsuits.

The lawsuit alleges the drug companies violated West Virginia’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act and made misrepresentations to the state Public Employees Insurance Agency. Together Sanofi and Bristol-Myers Squibb touted Plavix as a superior option to aspirin, charging consumers 100 times the price of aspirin for Plavix, according to the complaint, the Gazette-Mail reported. The lawsuit also alleges that the drug wholesaler distributed excessive supplies of powerful painkillers, including the highly addictive OxyContin, to so-called “pill mill” pharmacies and physicians in Southern West Virginia.

We just wrote that a Plavix study revealed high platelet re-activity after stenting; specifically that patients taking Plavix, who were also taking aspirin, experienced poor responses to the therapy. Stents are tiny wire-mesh tubes used to prop open arteries after doctors clear the arteries of blockages.

Plavix, an anti-platelet medication approved in the United States in 1997, is prescribed to reduce risks of atherosclerotic events such as blood clot, stroke, and heart attack in patients with a history of these conditions. We previously wrote that Plavix maker, Sanofi SA, was being probed by federal officials over its disclosures to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) concerning the blood thinner.

We also previously wrote that prior research raised some doubts about the usefulness of Plavix in preventing a recurrent stroke. The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that the combination of Plavix and aspirin is no better at preventing second strokes in people who’ve suffered a previous lacunar stroke, when compared to aspirin alone. The addition of Plavix to an aspirin regimen also increased the likelihood of serious gastrointestinal bleeding and death, according to the study.

Plavix lawsuits continue to mount. In fact, one Plavix lawsuit was filed on behalf of 64 Plavix patients who alleged bleeding side effects. That group claims it suffered strokes and heart attacks after taking Plavix and also alleged the drug can cause heart attacks, internal bleeding, strokes, blood disorders, or death. This is just one of a number of lawsuits filed over Plavix adverse reactions.

In 2010, the FDA added a black box warning to the Plavix label after it found that about three percent of the U.S. population is unable to properly metabolize the drug. The agency cited research that suggests that clopidogrel, which is sold as the brand Plavix, is less efficacious in some patients because of the way in which Plavix must be metabolized.

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