A New York jury has awarded $285,000 in damages to a woman who suffered jaw decay that she claimed was caused by side effects of Fosamax, a popular osteoporosis drug manufactured by Merck, which is the subject of hundreds of similar lawsuits over inadequate warnings.
The case was brought by Rhoda Scheinberg, who developed osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) after she had a tooth extraction while taking Fosamax.
The lawsuit is part of a federal Fosamax MDL, or multi-district litigation, which has been centralized before U.S. District Judge John Keenan in New York for all cases over jaw damage that may result from the long-term use of Fosamax.
Scheinberg’s lawsuit was a “bellwether” trial in the Fosamax ONJ litigation, selected as an early test case to gauge how juries will likely respond to certain testimony and evidence that will be repeated throughout other cases.
Merck has successfully defended the warnings placed on Fosamax during seven prior bellwether trials, but this is the second case lost by the drug maker. The other loss came in a lawsuit brought by Shirley Boles, who was awarded $8 million by a jury, but that award was later reduced and the case is now on appeal.
There is at least one remaining Fosamax bellwether case scheduled for trial. After that, barring any Fosamax settlement agreements, Judge Keenan is expected to consider remanding all remaining cases back to the U.S. District Courts where they were originally filed for separate trial dates.
Other Fosamax Litigation
Fosamax (alendronate sodium) is designed to reduce bone turnover, lowering risk of fractures associated with osteoporosis. However, use of the medication over long periods of time ave been linked the gradual decay or death of certain bones over time.
In addition to claims over jaw damage that may result from Fosamax, a growing number of lawsuits are also being filed by individuals who suffered atypical femur fractures, which may occur with little or no trauma at all. In many cases, users of Fosamax have reported suffering a complete fracture of their femur while taking a step.
A separate federal MDL has been established for all Fosamax femur fractures lawsuits filed again Merck, with those cases centralized for pretrial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.