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Merck Gets Another Fosamax Verdict

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.

The question ultimately is whether Fosamax causes osteonecrosis of the jaw. A study published in the Journal of Dental Research in February found oral bisphosphonate drugs like Fosamax can cause osteonecrosis of the jaw. Merck says they never saw this in clinical trials.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers will try now to dig down and change this losing trend. It is worth noting that plaintiffs disproportionately lose the early rounds, figuring out what works and what types of cases have the best chance of success. So you could see a turning of the tide. But I also said the same thing in the Seroquel cases where things for plaintiffs went from worse, to worser, to worst. (Anyone in the stock market right now knows the feeling.)