A federal court jury in New Jersey handed Merck an important victory by deciding its Fosamax osteoperoris treatment did not cause a woman's femur bone to fracture. The verdict was the first in some 3,300 such lawsuits to be decided by a jury - the first case resulted in a mistrial - and may give the drugmaker a leg up in the sprawling litigation.
Until now, most of the courtroom attention focused on Fosamax concerned allegations that the drug caused jaw-bone damage called osteonecrosis. About 1,230 such lawsuits have been filed and Merck has won five of seven trials; the two losses are being appealed (here is a back story and the Merck statement).
In the latest case to be decided, Bernadette Glynn, 58, an elementary school teacher from upstate New York, claimed that Merck was aware Fosamax might cause brittle bones and increase fracture risks years before the drug was made available to the public, Bloomberg News writes, adding that this lawsuit was seen as a bellwether for how other cases might be resolved. She took the drug for seven years to treat low bone-mass density, but it allegedly caused her bone to snap in 2009, although she never suffered from osteoperosis.
At the start of the three-week trial, Merck (MRK) lawyer Chilton Varner said consultant early warnings about the drug were “theoretical” and that early studies showed people who took Fosamax instead of a placebo had fewer fractures. “We are of disappointed in the verdict in Mrs. Glynn’s case,” her lawyer, Paul Pennock, wrote the news servicel. “We will, however, continue the important efforts to hold Merck accountable for their conduct with respect to Fosamax.”
femur pix thx to randomonix on flickr
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