According to Reuters (2/5/13), an eight-person federal jury awarded the plaintiff, Rhoda Scheinberg, $285,000 in her Fosamax lawsuit, which alleged Fosamax was a defective product and that the drug caused her to develop jaw bone disease after dental surgery. Although the jury rejected the argument that Fosamax is defective, it did find that Merck did not adequately warn about the risks associated with the medication.
Merck has reportedly said it disagrees with the verdict.
Of seven bellwether cases to go to trial, Merck has won five. The first loss was to plaintiff Shirley Boles (Boles v. Merck & Co., Inc., 06-cv-09455), who was awarded $8 million in her lawsuit alleging she developed osteonecrosis of the jawbone after using Fosamax. A judge later reduced the award to $1.5 million, finding the original award unreasonably high. Boles then opted to file another lawsuit. In September 2012, Law360 (9/18/12) reported that Merck reached a deal in the lawsuit, but noted that the deal was not considered a settlement.
Osteonecrosis of the jaw is a serious condition in which the jawbone fails to heal properly after minor trauma - such as tooth extraction - causing the tissue in the bone to die. Patients who develop osteonecrosis of the jaw may require long-term antibiotic therapy and surgery to remove the dead tissue. Symptoms of osteonecrosis of the jaw include pain or swelling in the jaw, numbness or infection.
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