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Plavix Lawsuits Gaining Traction

May 20, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP
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The litigation surrounding Plavix is heating up.  According to a report from LawyersUSA, at least 40 Plavix lawsuits are pending in New Jersey state court.  Thousands more could ultimately be filed there and in other states.

Plavix is used to prevent blood clots after a recent heart attack or stroke, and in people with certain disorders of the heart or blood vessels. The medication keeps the platelets in the blood from coagulating to prevent unwanted blood clots that can occur with certain heart or blood vessel conditions

According to the Lawyers USA report, the Plavix litigation picked up steam after the U.S Food & Drug Administration (FDA) mandated a black box warning - the agency's most serious safety notice - for its label.  The black box alerted doctors and patients that Plavix may be less effective in people who, because of a gene variant in a certain liver enzyme, cannot metabolize the drug to convert it to its active form.

The plaintiffs in Plavix lawsuits claim the drug's benefits were overstated, and that is no better a blood thinner than aspirin, but carries more side effects.  Recently, some research has backed up these allegations. According to a report from Newsinferno.com, a recent study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that compared Wafarin (another blood thinner) with combination Plavix-aspirin therapy found the risk of hemorrhaging among  people treated with the Plavix combo was significantly higher than previously  thought. Another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients taking Plavix are 12 times more likely to suffer recurrent ulcers and Plavix gastrointestinal bleeding than those who received a combination of aspirin and a heartburn pill.

Plavix lawsuit plaintiffs allege that they have suffered a variety of injuries due to their use of the drug. These include gastrointestinal bleeding, severe ulcers, heart attacks, strokes and the rare blood disorder thrombotic thrombocytopenic purport (TTP).

Last month, Bristol Myers Squibb Co. and Sanofi-Aventis, the makers of Plavix, filed a motion requesting that all pending and future Plavix lawsuits filed in New Jersey be designated a mass tort. A mass tort designation would centralize all cases filed in state courts before one judge for pretrial proceedings and would avoid duplicate discovery and conflicting rulings.

According to the LawyersUSA report, Plavix users who still wish to file a lawsuit will need to do so soon.   In most states, there is a statute-of-limitations of two years for personal injury lawsuits. The clock would have started ticking on that deadline in March 2010, when the FDA mandated the black box warning for Plavix.

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