According to Consumer Drug Report, a drug information resource, pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. is currently facing multiple lawsuits. Two women claim to have suffered osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), or “dead jaw”, after taking Fosamax® and have filed lawsuits against Merck. Opening statements were heard on March 1, 2012.
According to Merck, the two women suffered from medical conditions that cause jaw injuries prior to taking Fosamax and maintain that Fosamax did not cause their injuries.
In addition to the claims brought forth by women who have suffered osteonecrosis after taking Fosamax, women have made claims that Fosamax causes atypical femur fractures. According to their complaints, spontaneous femur fractures would occur during normal activities such as walking or jogging.
There are two separate multidistrict litigation trials for Fosamax lawsuits. All femur fracture lawsuits are currently consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey and all osteonecrosis lawsuits are consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Southern Court for the Southern District of New York.
Merck introduced Fosamax in October of 1995 for the treatment of osteoporosis, a chronic bone condition that causes bones to become weak and fragile. Fosamax is included in a class of drugs known as bisphosphonates, which are bone strengthening medications.
In addition to Fosamax, Merck also manufactures a drug known as Vytorin® which helps lower the amount of cholesterol and involves a combination of Zocor® and Zetia®. Vytorin is a competing drug to Zocor and is much more expensive.
A shareholder lawsuit was filed against Merck claiming that Merck jointly marketed Vytorin, with the help of Schering-Plough Corp., as being more effective than Zocor and concealed the results of a study that showed otherwise. The lawsuit was settled and Merck agreed to pay $5.1 million to cover plaintiff fees.