Diane’s injury is all too similar to that of Bernadette Glynn. “I was walking to the bus early one morning, felt a tight pain in the top of my leg, and next thing I knew, I was on the ground in agony,” says Diane. “When my doctor saw me later in the hospital, he explained to me that I didn’t fall and break my bone: Instead I broke my bone first and then fell.”
Plaintiff Glynn claims that Fosamax weakened her femur, which caused her leg to break back in 2009. Just before she fell, Glynn says she felt a “pinch” in her right leg when she bent over to pick something up in her driveway. Merck argues that Glynn, 58, tripped over a chainsaw in her garage and that the fracture is typical of women with osteoporosis.
This current Fosamax lawsuit is the second to take place in a New Jersey federal court. The first case ended in a mistrial about a month ago after the plaintiff developed a medical condition unrelated to Fosamax. The three-week jury trial now before U.S. District Judge Joel Pisano in Trenton, New Jersey, will involve medical experts testifying on both sides, and it will serve as the bellwether Fosamax femur fracture lawsuit: This test case will indicate how Merck will attempt to defend itself in similar Fosamax lawsuits against allegations that the use of its osteoporosis drug caused a weakening of the leg bones, which led to the plaintiff's femur fracture.
Diane was prescribed Fosamax in 2003, and took it for five years - until she fractured her femur. “One surgeon told me that I was too young to have broken my bone (I was only 55) without getting into some kind of accident and that I should prepare myself for the possibility of bone cancer,” says Diane. “He asked me what drugs I was taking and I told him that I was on Fosamax to prevent osteoporosis because my primary doctor thought I had the start of osteoporosis.”
But Diane didn’t have bone cancer. She does, however, have fibromyalgia, which she believes is linked to Fosamax. “After I broke my femur, I began to have so many aches and pains, mainly feeling like I had arthritis all over my body. I saw another doctor who said that fibromyalgia is sometimes caused by a traumatic experience - another reason why I connect it to Fosamax.”
Not one doctor told Diane to stop taking the osteoporosis med. “I was talking to my girlfriend in the US,” says Diane, “and she said, ‘Get off that crap immediately because there are Fosamax lawsuits all over this country.’ Needless to say, I took her advice, then I looked online and couldn’t believe how many Fosamax lawsuits have been filed against Merck.
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Merck, which is the second-largest pharmaceutical company in the US, is facing more than 3,300 lawsuits claiming that it ignored signs that extended use of bisphosphonates such as Fosamax caused femurs to deteriorate in some patients. Another 1,230 cases allege that Fosamax caused similar fractures in jaws. (Merck recently paid $285,000 in a Fosamax jaw lawsuit.
Fosamax, which was approved for sale in the US in 1995, generated sales of up to $3 billion a year until patent protection lapsed in 2008.