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Plavix manufacturers in hot water as suits bubble up

A new lawsuit filed in Illinois state court against Plavix is alleging that the manufacturers of the product -- Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi Aventis -- lied about the cardiac drug's efficacy and safety. If true, the product liability suit could cause the company a serious financial headache.

Designed as a blood thinner to keep platelets from sticking together so clots are less likely to form, Plavix was once advertised as safer and more effective than aspirin. Many patients used it because of these supposed benefits. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit -- which was filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court -- believe the product caused the individuals increased medical costs, economic loss and injuries that would not have happened otherwise.

Some of the injuries reported by plaintiffs include severe ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, strokes, heart attacks and a blood disorder. The blood disorder is known as thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, or TTP.

According to the lawsuit, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cited the manufacturers of Plavix in the past for off-label promotions and illegal advertisement campaigns that said that the drug was better than aspirin and safe for the stomach. Both of these claims were not proven, according to the FDA.

The Illinois suit accuses Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi Aventis of manufacturing a defective product, negligence, strict liability and failure to warn.

Other complaints have been made in states besides Illinois, many of them in New Jersey. Attempts to have the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation centralize the federal Plavix litigation have not succeeded yet.

In New Jersey, dozens of complaints stemming from the side effects of Plavix have been centralized and will be heard before one judge.

Source: Injury Board, "Plavix Side Effects Lawsuit Filed in Illinois State Court," Shezad Malik, Jan. 30, 2012

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