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California Supreme Court Says Plavix Users can Sue over Bleeding Injuries

Oct 17, 2016

The California Supreme Court has ruled that Plavix users and their families can file lawsuits over bleeding-related injuries even though manufacturer Bristol-Myers Squibb and most of the plaintiffs are based out-of-state. Plavix was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997. It is a blood thinner used to prevent blood clots and related injuries, such as a stroke or heart attack. Plavix plaintiffs allege that Bristol deceptively marketed the drug and failed to disclose the risk of internal bleeding.

A lawsuit representing 86 Californians and 592 residents in 33 other states can proceed, the California Supreme Court announced after a 4-3 ruling. The case will be tried in San Francisco Superior Court unless it is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that Plavix caused heart attack, stroke, cerebral hemorrhaging and gastrointestinal bleeding. In 18 cases, the plaintiffs allege wrongful death. Bristol-Myers Squib (BMS) is accused of knowing about the risks, but failing to inform patients or their physicians. Instead, the company continued to market the drug by overstating its benefits, plaintiffs allege.

The court majority argued that BMS conducts a significant amount of business in California, pointing out the five research and laboratory facilities along with 250 salespeople. Plavix sales in California garnered nearly $918 million from 2006 to 2012.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is also being sued by the state of New Mexico. In a press release issued Sept. 15th, state Attorney General Hector Balderas announced a lawsuit alleging that the company failed to disclose an increased risk of bleeding with Plavix. "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.

The AG alleged that BMS misrepresented the safety profile of the blood thinner, placing patients at risk and deceiving the taxpayer. In particular, the lawsuit notes that Plavix is not effective in a certain percentage of the population. BMS allegedly knew about this, but never disclosed this information to patients or the medical community.

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