HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A lawsuit filed today by the State Attorney General against the makers of Plavix alleges that they marketed a drug in Hawaii that they knew would not work for up to half of the population.
More than 1 million prescriptions of the blood thinner Plavix have been filled in Hawaii since 1998, due to marketing claims like this one from a commercial.
It says, "Plavix when used with other heart medications goes beyond what other heart medicines do alone to provide even greater protection against heart attack, stroke and even death."
State Attorney General David Louie says it's false advertising that puts profits above patient safety. At a press conference announcing the lawsuit, Louie said, "For some, it may have actually increased risk because it was marketed to be a substitute for aspirin."
The Attorney General points to studies done 4 years before Plavix hit the market that showed the drug may not work for a majority of East Asian and Pacific Islanders, roughly half of Hawaii's population.
Louie said, "For a very significant portion of our population, the drug had no effect."
Attorney Rick Fried filed the suit on behalf of Hawaii. Fried added, "The manufacturer has gone to great lengths not to let this information come out because certainly in Hawaii if half the people taking it stop, that's millions of dollars they lose."
The FDA forced manufacturers to put a warning on the Plavix box in 2010 and tone down misleading marketing about its benefits.
Fried said, "They tried to claim the Plavix worked better than aspirin. Well, first it didn't."
There's a simple swab test many Hawaii cardiologists now offer to reveal whether Plavix will work for a patient or who may be better off taking baby aspirin, at 4 cents a pop versus paying 4 dollars for a Plavix pill.
Louie summed up by saying, "if you're taking Plavix, it might work, but it also might not work. Talk to your doctor.
You have to ask yourself why would I pay one hundred times more than aspirin to continue taking something that's not effective?"
Hawaii is now the fifth State to file a lawsuit about Plavix marketing claims.
The State's seeking civil penalties, and return of profits, obtained by unethical acts.