MOUNDSVILLE – A federal court in New Jersey has decided a lawsuit filed in West Virginia state court by former Attorney General Darrell McGraw belongs there.

On Feb. 26, U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson, of the Eastern District of New Jersey, sent the lawsuit against Bristol-Meyers Squibb Company and Sanofi-Aventis U.S. back to a federal court in West Virginia so that it could be sent back to Marshall County Circuit Court.

In a complaint filed by four private law firms hired by McGraw, the State alleges the defendants have a marketing partnership that has resulted in an illegal program to promote the use of the prescription blood thinner Plavix.

The complaint was filed Dec. 28, 2012, weeks before McGraw left office. He had lost his bid for a sixth term to now-Attorney General Patrick Morrisey that November.

The defendants first removed the case to a West Virginia federal court, then had it transferred to a multidistrict litigation proceeding in New Jersey. The MDL judge there decided it belonged back where it was originally filed in a two-page order.

The two defendants have claimed Plavix is a superior drug to aspirin for certain indicated usages when it is not, the complaint says.

“Upon information and belief, BMS/Sanofi misrepresented the efficacy of Plavix as justification to charge a higher price, thereby increasing company profits,” the complaint says.

“BMS/Sanofi charged approximately 100 times more for Plavix than the cost of aspirin. Plavix costs approximately $4.00 per pill whereas aspirin costs approximately $0.04 per pill.”

Hired to represent the State were:

-Robert P. Fitzsimmons and Clayton J. Fitzsimmons of Fitzsimmons Law Firm in Wheeling;

-Carl N. Frankovitch and Mark A. Colantonio of Frankovitch, Anetakis, Colantonio & Simon in Weirton;

-Teresa C. Toriseva of Toriseva Law in Wheeling; and

-Robert L. Salim of Salim-Beasley in Natchitoches, La.

The complaint says the defendants violated the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act, made misrepresentations to the Public Employees Insurance Agency and violated the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act.

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