Businessweek (4/18/12) reports that Merck announced it had won the lawsuit, the fifth victory for the drugmaker in Fosamax lawsuits and the second state court case to go to trial. So far, six lawsuits have gone to trial, with the plaintiff winning one lawsuit. In that lawsuit, the plaintiff's award was reduced to $1.5 million, although Merck plans to appeal the verdict in that trial.
According to Businessweek, the jury in the most recent lawsuit found in favor of Merck, which argued that the plaintiff's jaw problems were caused by significant infections and conditions that affected her ability to heal from surgery to remove four teeth. The plaintiff had alleged that use of Fosamax, which she took from 2002 to 2008, caused complications from tooth removal surgery, which resulted in her serious jaw problems.
Approximately 2,300 Fosamax lawsuits have been filed in state and federal court against Merck, with many alleging patients developed jaw problems, including osteonecrosis of the jaw, after using Fosamax to strengthen their bones. Merck has defended itself, saying it properly researched Fosamax and monitored the drug since it was approved for use.
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According to the study, for every 1,100 people who recently began treatment with bisphosphonates (a class of drug that includes Fosamax), one extra person developed uveitis, and for every 370 new bisphosphonate users, one extra person developed scleritis, compared with the rate of development of those conditions in the general population.
Fosamax and other bisphosphonates are used to prevent osteoporosis. They have been linked in studies to atypical femur fractures and osteonecrosis of the jaw (jawbone death).