Bristol Myers Squibb, Sanofi ordered to pay $834M for improper drug marketing

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Bristol Myers Squibb and Sanofi were ordered to pay $834 million to the state of Hawaii after a judge ruled that the drugmakers misleadingly marketed their blood-thinning drug, Plavix, Bloomberg reported Feb. 15. 

Lawyers for Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connor showed evidence that the drugmakers didn't properly disclose that Plavix was ineffective for as many as 30 percent of patients in the state of Hawaii, according to Bloomberg. The $834 million was awarded to the state as a civil penalty for violation of Hawaii's consumer protection laws. 

Bristol Myers Squibb and Sanofi both make Plavix as part of a joint venture. In clinical trials, the drug didn't work for many people of Asian or Pacific Island descent, as they didn't properly metabolize the drug due to a genetic trait, according to court filings. 

"The court finds that defendants knew at the time of launch that there was a significant issue regarding diminished patient response to Plavix, particularly in those of non-Caucasian races," and "for many years defendants deliberately turned a blind eye toward the problem out of concern that addressing it might adversely affect Plavix sales and defendants' profits," Judge Dean Ochiai said, according to Bloomberg.

The drugmakers said in a joint statement: "The court's ruling is unsupported by the law and at odds with the evidence at trial. The overwhelming body of scientific evidence demonstrates that Plavix is a safe and effective therapy, including for people of Asian descent," according to Bloomberg.

"Despite the attorney general's litigation position, the Hawaii health authorities have taken no action consistent with the claims in this lawsuit – for example, Hawaii Medicaid has not imposed any restrictions on prescribing Plavix for people of Asian descent. The penalties awarded by the Court are wholly unsupported, particularly given that the state of Hawaii provided no evidence that even a single person has been harmed by Plavix," Bristol Myers Squibb said in a statement sent to Becker's

They said they would appeal the decision.

Bristol Myers Squibb and Sanofi have been fighting lawsuits related to Plavix for more than a decade, Bloomberg reported. 

Read the full article here

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