Fosamax Jaw Necrosis Lawsuits in MDL Scheduled for Trial in April and June

U.S. District Judge John Keenan, who is presiding over the consolidated federal Fosamax lawsuits involving claims that the osteoporosis drug caused users to suffer debilitating jaw damage, has scheduled trial dates for “bellwether” cases to begin in April and June 2010.

The original trial plan called for a series of three early trials to occur starting in August 2009, known as “bellwether” trials because they would be used to evaluate how juries respond to the evidence. The first Fosamax trial, involving a case filed by Shirley Boles, ended in a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. The second case, involving a lawsuit filed by Bessie Fleming, was dismissed last month, weeks before trial was scheduled to begin.

In an order issued last week, Judge Keenan indicated that the trial of the third case, involving a jaw necrosis lawsuit filed by Louise H. Maley, remains scheduled to start on April 19, 2010. A new date for the retrial of the Boles case was also scheduled to being on June 2, 2010, and a conference was scheduled for February 2010 to select a random case from the trial pool to replace the Flemings lawsuit as an early trial.

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There are currently more than 900 Fosamax jaw necrosis lawsuits pending against the Merck & Co., involving allegations that the drug maker failed to adequately research their medication or warn about the risk of painful and deforming jaw bone decay associated with long-term use of Fosamax. The lawsuits have been consolidated under Judge Keenan in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York as part of an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation.

Fosamax (alendronate sodium), is a member of a class of drugs known as bisphosphonates, and is prescribed for treatment of osteoporosis. Fosamax was approved by FDA in October 1995, and has been used by more than 20 million people. The drug generated over $3 billion in annual sales for Merck before it became available as a generic last year.


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