Trial Over Side Effects of Fosamax Underway In New Jersey

Opening statements are expected to begin tomorrow in New Jersey state court for the latest trial involving claims that side effects of Fosamax cause jaw damage and bone decay

The trial involves two consolidated Fosamax lawsuits brought by Jo Ann Sessner and Ameila Flores, who each allege that they developed osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) from Fosamax. The painful and debilitating condition causes decay of the jaw bone, and often requires surgery to remove portions of the jaw.

Jury selection began earlier this week in the Superior Court of New Jersey, in Atlantic County before Judge Carol Higbee, who is overseeing all Fosamax suits pending in the state.

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More than 1,245 lawsuits over side effects of Fosamax are pending in New Jersey state court, where Merck, the manufacturer of the drug, is based.

While many of the cases involve individuals who have suffered jaw problems, a growing number of Fosamax lawsuits over femur fractures have been filed in recent months by individuals who experienced a sudden broken thigh bone that occurred with little or no trauma at all.

Merck released a statement on Monday, indicating that the company believes the trial will prove that Fosamax did not cause the two women’s jaw conditions.

“Unfortunately, both plaintiffs had medical problems that cause people to develop jaw problems regardless of whether they were taking Fosamax,” the company’s legal counsel said in the statement. “Both had evidence of significant infections that required invasive dental procedures, and had conditions that inhibit the body’s ability to heal.”

Fosamax (alendronate sodium), is a member of a class of drugs known as bisphosphonates, which are prescribed for treatment of osteoporosis. Fosamax was approved by the 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 in 2010.

In addition to New Jersey state court lawsuits, Merck also faces a number of cases over Fosamax that are pending in the federal court system. All federal cases involving jaw problems from Fosamax have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL), which is centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. A second Fosamax MDL for femur fracture cases has been centralized in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

The New Jersey state court trial will be at least the sixth case to go to trial against Merck. The drug maker has successfully defended itself in all but one of the previous trials, but all of the trials have involved jaw decay from Fosamax.

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  • AnneMarch 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    My mother suffered terrribly from jawbone pain, continuios bleeding from her gums. I saw a actual 3'' piece of bone come out of her gum. Saddley, I think she suffered more from the osteonecrosis of her jaw then the cancer?

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