According to the Hawaii Department of Attorney General, in mid-February 2021, a Hawaii state court judge ordered Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and three U.S.-based subsidiaries of French pharmaceutical company Sanofi (“Defendants”) to pay $834 million for violating Hawaii’s unfair and deceptive practices laws.
The order arises out of the Defendants’ alleged acts in developing, marketing and promoting Plavix, a prescription drug designed to reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots. According to evidence reportedly presented in court, the Defendants began marketing the drug to Hawaii physicians and consumers in 1998, knowing that it was not effective for many patients, including Asian and Pacific Island patients. The Defendants allegedly only began warning Hawaii physicians and consumers about this issue in March 2010, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required them to place a “black box” warning on the label accompanying the drug.
After a four week trial that ended on November 20, 2020, a Hawaii Circuit Court judge concluded that the Defendants deliberately withheld vital information about Plavix’s efficacy from the FDA, the greater medical community, and Hawaii consumers. The Court found that, between December 1998 and March 12, 2010—when the FDA required the Defendants to disclose the warning—the Defendants sold 834,012 prescriptions, refills, and non-retail units in Hawaii without including important information about the large percentage of patients who received less benefit or no benefit from Plavix due to their race and genetic makeup. Based on this evidence, the Court determined the Defendants “knowingly placed Plavix patients at grave risk of serious injury or death in order to substantially increase their profits.”
The Court further found that the Defendants engaged in “immoral, unethical, oppressive or unscrupulous” acts, by choosing not to warn about the risks and benefits of Plavix and instead “burying their heads in the sand.” Finally, the Court found that Defendants’ acts deprived consumers of the right to make informed choices about the use of Plavix, and found that each distribution of Plavix with its misleading package label constituted a violation of Hawaii law. Noting that the Defendants’ acts were “unfair and deceptive,” the Court imposed a penalty of $1,000 per violation, for a total of the $834,012,000 awarded as penalties.
The Hawaii Attorney General stated in the press release, “Today’s order vindicates seven long years of work by this Department and its attorneys to ensure that companies marketing and selling their products in Hawai‘i keep the safety and welfare our people at the forefront of their business decisions. The order entered by the Court today puts the pharmaceutical industry on notice that it will be held accountable for conduct that deceives the public and places profit above safety.”
If you or a loved one suffered injuries (or worse) as a result of Plavix in Hawaii or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a Hawaii medical malpractice lawyer or a pharmaceutical claim lawyer in your state who may investigate your Plavix claim for you and represent you in a Plavix claim, if appropriate.
Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find Plavix claim lawyers in your state who may assist you.
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