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Articles Posted in Fosamax

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Let’s face it: the bellwether Foxamax trials are going very poorly for Fosamax plaintiffs and their lawyers. Very poorly.

Merck won another jury trial, this time in New York, which blamed osteoporosis drug Fosamax for jaw and dental injuries. This is Merck’s fourth Fosamax victory in five tries. The other: an $8 million verdict (reduced to $1.5 million).

There is no question that these cases have value. Even assuming this abysmal 20% rate is indicia of what we can expect in the future, do the math. These cases have meaningful value. That being said, if there is a global settlement of the remaining 2,000 cases, every loss chips away at the value of plaintiffs’ claims.

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Here are the stories we’re following this week:

  • Infusion pumps: The FDA is tightening regulation of infusion pumps, which have reportedly caused 710 deaths in the past five years, and have been subject to 79 recalls since 2005 (news links to The New York Times, The Wall Street JournalReuters).
  • Guidant: Brian Nash’s perspective on the defective Guidant defibrillator settlement proposal.
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The next Fosamax trial, alleging osteonecrosis of the jaw, is likely starting this upcoming Monday, with jury selection today (HT: Shearlings Got Plowed). The case will go before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

In the Maley case, Merck tried to get a dismissal based on inadequate specific causation, but that attempt failed back in January. Merck contends that the plaintiff does not have osteonecrosis of the jaw but, instead, has a condition known as neuralgia-inducing cavitational osteonecrosis (NICO). A specific diagnosis of the plaintiff’s condition is likely to be a big issue at trial.

For more on Fosamax, see prior posts of the Drug Recall Lawyer Blog.

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Here are the stories we’re following this week:

  • Pfizer: CNN reports on why Pharmaceia, Pfizer’s shell company, “took the fall” for Pfizer’s illegal marketing practices
  • Crestor: will the marketing campaign persuade people to take it when they don’t need it? (HT: Patient Safety Blog).
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It’s a winter wonderland here in Maryland, and our office is running on a skeleton crew. Here are the top drug injury-related stories for the past few days:

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Judge Keenan has rescheduled the Boles trial for June 2, 2010, and has scheduled the next Fosamax trial for February 1, 2010. The specific case is not yet known–the judge will randomly select it from the roster.
For more on the Fosamax trials, see our blog.

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This week a terrific victory was achieved by plaintiff Peggy Stevens of Missouri in her quest to hold Novartis responsible for covering up the dangers of their osteoporosis drug Zometa. Like Fosamax and other bisphosphonate-drugs, Zometa can cause a condition known as osteonecrosis of the jaw, particularly when the patient undergoes invasive dental procedures (tooth extractions, root canals, etc.). The jury of 12 deliberated for eight hours over 2 days in the Missoula District Court before concluding that Novartis was responsible for $822,000 in lost income and $2,378,000 in non-economic damages (pain, mental anguish, inconvenience, etc.), for a total verdict of $3.2 million.

Ms. Stevens showed the jury that Novartis hid relevant information and failed to appropriately and reasonably warn patients of the drug’s dangers. The only warning about osteonecrosis of the jaw was given in a 20-fold pamphlet inside the drug’s box, in tiny print. Look at the picture—is this something that should not be front and center? Additionally, internal company e-mails revealed that the company worked to suppress information on the dangers.
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There are about 550 other Zometa lawsuits, most of them consolidated in an MDL in Tennessee federal court, and the others grouped in New Jersey state court. The next Zometa trial is scheduled for March 2010 in New Jersey. Many expert witnesses will be the same in these trials.

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The Boles’ case, tried and mis-trialed is coming back. From the Shearlings Got Plowed blog, we came across this tidbit from Judge Keenan’s October 7 order stating that “As for the second request, it would be fruitless for Plaintiff to file the motion. The Court intends to retry this case.”

We’re looking into determining what the plaintiff’s request was that spawned the order (perhaps motion for reconsideration of motion for judgment?). At any rate, it’s not surprising. The judge did not have many other options. Of course, Ms. Boles will have to wait in line—there are other Fosamax trials set for December and January.

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The jury was finally let go today after deliberating since September 3. The reports from the court have been that the jury was convinced almost from day one that they could not reach an agreement–the judge tried his best, and gave them every opportunity to talk it out. However, today, Judge Keenan declared a mistrial.
The defense believes they had 7 of the 8 jurors on their side. The one thing I have learned from watching juries is that you rarely know who’s with you and who’s against you. However, the jury notes may give some credibility to that argument (and, the Plaintiff’s counsel did request the mistrial the other day, perhaps sensing a losing battle). It looks like Ms. Boles will have to wait until spring, so by then, two other Fosamax trials may get to go, first. We’ll see what happens in round 2…

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