Background Note | HBS Case Collection | October 2010 (Revised November 2010)

Plavix: Drugs in the Age of Personalized Medicine

by Richard G. Hamermesh, Mara G. Aspinall and Rachel Gordon


PIavix, one of the world's best selling drugs in 2010, appears to have a limited future. Its patent was due to expire soon, and recently new data had been discovered that indicated that a small subset of the population would be at risk for stroke, heart attack, or even death if they took PIavix. As a result, the FDA had added a black box warning—the agency's most severe—to Plavix's label in 2010. In addition, it had been discovered that the common combination of Plavix and Prilosec, an over-the-counter drug, could adversely affect patients. Finally, Plavix faced new competition from two new drugs with different mechanisms of action. This case reviews the recent history of Plavix in greater detail to encourage a discussion of the following questions: How might the current manufacturers of Plavix handle these emerging threats to their leading blockbuster? How might Plavix's potential competitors utilize Plavix's mixed history to their advantage? How should genotyping be integrated into the clinical care of patients in the light of emerging knowledge?

Keywords: Health Care and Treatment; Product Positioning; Business and Government Relations; Genetics; Competitive Strategy; Pharmaceutical Industry;


Hamermesh, Richard G., Mara G. Aspinall, and Rachel Gordon. "Plavix: Drugs in the Age of Personalized Medicine." Harvard Business School Background Note 811-001, October 2010. (Revised November 2010.)