According to reports, the multidistrict litigation steering committee, which coordinates the plaintiffs' activities during pre-trial proceedings—such as the discovery process—was recently formed by court order. Previously, a court order set out that 36 lawsuits filed against companies linked to Fosamax in a variety of federal districts be consolidated in a district court.
The lawsuits alleged that Fosamax use was linked to low-impact femur fractures and that Merck failed to adequately test the drug and failed to warn patients about the risks associated with the medication. In October 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning that use of bisphosphonates, a class of drug that includes Fosamax, were linked to an increased risk of rare low-impact femur fractures.
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Meanwhile, the FDA announced that it is conducting an ongoing safety review of bisphosphonates, including Fosamax, to determine if they are linked to an increased risk of esophageal cancer. The decision to review bisphosphonates came after the FDA received data from two studies, one of which showed no increase in the risk of esophageal cancer but the second of which found double the risk in patients who had taken the drugs for more than three years or who had 10 or more prescriptions of the drugs.
At this time, the FDA considers the benefits of bisphosphonates to outweigh the risks and notes that esophageal cancer is rare. The agency recommends that patients follow specific directs for use of the medications.