During the 1990s, the prescription drug Fosamax became a popular treatment for osteoporosis and other conditions that weaken bones. Sadly, many patients who were prescribed the drug have experienced serious complications such as bone fractures and osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). The resulting injuries have sparked thousands of lawsuits against Merck, the drug's maker.
Dangerous-drug cases are usually complicated. It's a good idea to talk to a products liability lawyer if you have been injured by Fosamax.
An estimated 20 percent of American women over 50 develop osteoporosis. The condition affects men, too. So it is no surprise that Fosamax gained widespread popularity when Merck advertised it as limiting bone loss. The drug ultimately generated billions for Merck — and serious injuries for many patients. By 2006, Merck faced lawsuits across the United States over Fosamax injuries.
People who suffer side effects from the osteoporosis drug Fosamax may file a lawsuit to help obtain compensation for their injuries.
Why People Sue for Fosamax Injuries
In 1995, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Fosamax, also known as alendronate sodium, to treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. The drug also was used to prevent and treat other bone conditions, including male osteoporosis and Paget's disease. It's estimated that millions of men and women worldwide have used Fosamax.
Instead of preventing or treating a condition that makes them prone to bone fractures, many Fosamax users instead experienced debilitating side effects after prolonged use. These conditions usually require further medical care.
Some Fosamax patients may develop ONJ, a rare condition also known as jaw death. The jawbone tissue essentially breaks down, exposing the bone and possibly leading to infections, gum lesions and loosened teeth. In particular, patients who have dental surgery while taking the drug may be at risk of developing ONJ.
Although the drug is supposed to increase bone density and prevent bone loss, patients taking Fosamax my experience unusual thigh bone fractures and other bone problems.
Fosamax users say they should have been warned about the risks. So far, more than 1,000 Fosamax lawsuits have been filed in U.S. courts. These lawsuits allege that Merck failed to adequately warn consumers about the drug's risks.
Fosamax has also been linked to other side effects, including:
- Joint and muscle pain.
- Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat).
- Inflammation and ulcers of the esophagus.
Plaintiffs may be eligible for compensation for:
- Medical expenses.
- Lost wages.
- Diminished quality of life.
Fosamax Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)
Fosamax lawsuits have been filed in both state and federal courts across the nation. The cases filed in federal court have been transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. There, a single judge will oversee the cases in order to process them efficiently. The cases remain separate, but are collectively known as Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) No. 1789. A few plaintiffs asked the court to certify their claims as a class action, but the class claims were denied in 2008.
More than 900 cases are pending in MDL No. 1789. A few of the cases have gone to trial, with mixed results. Merck has prevailed in some cases. The company has defended itself by arguing that the plaintiff's problems were caused by other health problems or that there is otherwise no clear connection between the drug and the plaintiffs' injuries.
In 2010, a federal jury awarded $8 million to a woman who developed ONJ as a result of using Fosamax, but the judge reduced that award to $1.5 million. Each case is different, so there is no guarantee that a patient will win a similar amount in the future.