Aredia, Zometa Jaw Damage Lawsuit Results in $13M Verdict

The estate of a North Carolina woman has been awarded nearly $13 million through a lawsuit over jaw damage from Aredia and Zometa, two chemotherapy drugs.

The Aredia and Zometa lawsuit was brought against drug maker Novartis by Rita Fussman, who died of breast cancer last year. Her family alleged that Fussman suffered additional discomfort before her death due to the side effects of Zometa and Aredia, which they say caused her jaw bone to decay; a condition known as osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ).

The case is the third osteonecrosis of the jaw lawsuit over Zometa to go to trial. The first ended in a $3.2 million verdict in October 2009, and the second Zometa trial resulted in a defense verdict last month.

Did You Know?

AT&T Data Breach Impacts Millions of Customers

More than 73 million customers of AT&T may have had their names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and other information released on the dark web due to a massive AT&T data breach. Lawsuits are being pursued to obtain financial compensation.

Learn More

The lawsuits are considered a bellwether cases that could be an indicator of how juries will respond in the future to other Zometa lawsuits, and may be used by the parties to reach a potential Zometa settlement agreement.

Aredia (pamidronate disodium) and Zometa (zoledronic acid) are treatments used to reduce bone complications associated with multiple myeloma and bone metastases from solid tumors. Although they are used to strengthen bones, the drugs are part of a class of medications known as bisphosphonates, which have been associated with an increased risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw. The debilitating and painful condition causes decay or death of the jaw bone, often resulting in the need for surgery to remove portions of the jaw.

There are about 600 Aredia and Zometa suits, which have all been consolidated and centralized in U.S. District Court in Nashville as part of a multidistrict litigation, or MDL, for pretrial proceedings. Another 150 lawsuits are currently pending in state courts in New Jersey.

One of the more damaging pieces of evidence presented during the trial was an internal email from a marketing executive that seemed to suggest the company suppressed a report outlining a number of cases where Zometa was linked to ONJ. Novartis began warning doctors of the potential for jaw damage in 2005, but the lawsuit alleged that Novartis knew about the link much earlier, potentially as early as the 1980s. Fussman began taking Zometa in 2001.

The jury in the North Carolina federal court awarded the family $287,000 in compensatory damages and $12.6 million in punitive damages. However, a punitive damages cap in North Carolina will reduce that amount to three times the compensatory award, meaning that Novartis will pay approximately $1.1 million.

The Zometa lawsuits are similar to more than 900 Fosamax jaw necrosis lawsuits that are pending against Merck & Co. over their oral bisphosphonate medication. Although Fosamax is used to treat osteoporosis and reduce the risk of bone fractures, long term use of the medication has also been linked to an increased risk of jaw osteonecrosis.

Image Credit: |

2 Comments

  • shirleyMarch 22, 2016 at 2:55 am

    I had my lower jawbone replaced due to dead jaw syndrome from being on aredia

  • EsterFebruary 16, 2011 at 12:13 am

    Recieve medication for bone .osteop and developed mouth and gum problem e tooth remove and never heal... I use Fosamax drug over past year and one back in 2005 since I have develope mount condition....

Share Your Comments

I authorize the above comments be posted on this page*

Want your comments reviewed by a lawyer?

To have an attorney review your comments and contact you about a potential case, provide your contact information below. This will not be published.

NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Top Stories

Johnson & Johnson Faces Medical Monitoring Lawsuit Over Future Baby Powder Cancer Risks
Johnson & Johnson Faces Medical Monitoring Lawsuit Over Future Baby Powder Cancer Risks (Posted today)

Women who used Johnson's Baby Powder around their genitals for feminine hygiene purposes now live in fear of developing ovarian cancer, according to the class action lawsuit seeking medical monitoring for future diagnoses

More Than 9,600 Join Suboxone Lawsuit Over Tooth Decay in MDL Filing
More Than 9,600 Join Suboxone Lawsuit Over Tooth Decay in MDL Filing (Posted yesterday)

A bundled complaint of about 9,600 Suboxone lawsuits were filed in federal court on Friday, ahead of the two-year anniversary of the FDA requiring tooth decay label warnings on the opioid treatment film strips, which is also a deadline for filing a civil complaint in many states.