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Will 2012 Be a Year of Reckoning for Fosamax Lawsuits?

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New York, NYThere should be some movement on the Fosamax side effects front in 2012, according to a prolific legal blogger close to the various lawsuits involving Fosamax and femur fractures, and Fosamax osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ).

According to Tom Lamb of Drug Injury Watch (01.12.12), three trials have been set for Fosamax ONJ matters this year by US District Court Judge Joseph F. Keenan, who is presiding over the Multi-District Litigation (MDL) cases for Fosamax dead jaw.

The first is Boles v. Merck & Co. Inc., which is set to begin on March 26 of this year. In the Boles case, the matter has already been tried, thus the March session will be a trial on damages, according to Lamb.

Further, Jellema v. Merck & Co. Inc. will commence May 7, with Spano v. Merck & Co. Inc. set to roll after the Labor Day weekend, on September 10.

Fosamax osteonecrosis of the jaw occurs when patients taking bisphosphonates such as Fosamax experience loss of bone tissue due to a failure to heal following oral surgery or tooth extraction. The impact to an individual's life and livelihood can be devastating.

However, beyond Fosamax dead jaw is the issue surrounding Fosamax and femur fractures. This rather frustrating issue links an alleged higher incidence of fractures to the femur bone to a drug prescribed for osteoporosis patients in an effort to strengthen bone and mitigate the effects of bone loss.

Many a Fosamax lawsuit has resulted from the link to femur fractures. To that end, every Fosamax femur lawsuit filed in federal court was consolidated in May of last year to the District of New Jersey and assigned to the Honorable Garrett E. Brown Jr.

A bellwether Fosamax lawsuit that was to have started in November of last year did not proceed after the plaintiff told the court she would not appear for trial. That case was Raber v. Merck & Co. Inc.

Lamb indicates that the Raber bellwether case will not be replaced. Instead, focus will shift to the Spano and Jellema trials. As for Boles, the twice-tried case will this time hear arguments pursuant to damages.

At issue is the allegation that patients were not made aware of risks associated with taking the bisphosphonate Fosamax, a common drug used to treat osteoporosis and weakening bones—a condition that is becoming more prevalent with the aging American population.

Various researchers have mused over the idea of taking a "Fosamax holiday" amongst regular users of Fosamax, in an attempt to mitigate the risks inherent with Fosamax side effects.

In the meantime, Lamb speculates 2012 will be a year when things happen on the Fosamax ONJ side of the legal ledger. Driving this position is the appointment, late last year, of John D. Feerick, Esq., Dean Emeritus of the Fordham University School of Law, as the Special Settlement Master by Judge Keenan. Feerick's role would be to enter into settlement discussions involving Fosamax dead jaw cases, currently numbering over 900.

It is for this reason that speculation suggests this year will mark significant progress in the Fosamax osteonecrosis of the jaw MDL. As for Fosamax and femur fractures, there are few forecasts as to when that MDL would result in some kind of conclusion.


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