Merck dealt blow in Fosamax case

Jury awards plaintiff $285,000

Merck & Co. has had a good run so far as it fights off plaintiffs saying the company’s osteoporosis drug Fosamax caused them health problems—claiming victory in five of the seven bellwether cases to go to trial. But yesterday, a jury in Manhattan dealt Merck a bit of a blow when it awarded a former Fosamax user $285,000 for her injuries.

Rhoda E. Scheinberg took Fosamax for almost six years and claimed she suffered severe jaw problems due to the drug. The jury, saying Merck failed to properly warn users about the potential harmful effects of Fosamax, found in Scheinberg’s favor.

“We disagree with the jury’s verdict,” Chilton Varner, a partner at King & Spalding, told the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. The law firm represented Merck in the case. “Merck provided appropriate warnings, and the plaintiff was at increased risk for dental and jaw problems regardless of whether she was taking Fosamax.”

The jury did, however, find for Merck on a claim regarding the drug’s design.

Former Fosamax users have filed more than 4,000 cases against Merck. Bellwether trials are often used to set parameters for future settlements when high numbers of suits are filed against a company.

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Cathleen Flahardy

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