A New Jersey state court jury decided late yesterday that Novartis provided adequate warnings about the risk of its Zometa bone-strengthening drug,Bloomberg News reports. A lawsuit had been filed by a 73-year-old Jane Bessemer, who claimed the bisphosphonate medicine caused her to develop osteonecrosis, which is the painful death of jawbone tissue. Bessemer had taken Zometa and another drug, Aredia, to slow bone loss as she battled breast cancer.
This was the second such lawsuit to go to trial, although Novartis lost the first case last year, when a Montana jury ordered the drugmaker to pay $3.2 million in damages to a woman who blamed Zometa for causing osteonecrosis (background). The drugmaker faces about 550 lawsuits are stacked up in federal court in Tennessee and 150 are queued up in New Jersey. The same dispute plagues Merck (see here and here).
The Zometa ligitation, by the way, has offered some rather contentious moments. Last May, Novartis was sanctioned by a federal court judge in Tennesse for denying that it ran direct-to-consumer ads for Zometa and, then, failing to produce those ads - which were later discovered independently by lawyers for a woman who claims the medication caused osteonecrosis. The drugmaker flip-flopped on the existence of the ads in different motions and was ordered to pay attorneys’ fees (back story).