ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - Opening statements are scheduled for March 1st in the second lawsuit to go to trial in state court involving the widely-prescribed drug Fosamax.
Plaintiffs Amelia Flores and Jo Ann Sessner filed lawsuits against the drug's manufacturer, Merck & Company (NYSE: MRK), alleging they suffered jawbone injuries after taking Fosamax to treat osteoporosis, a disease that causes a loss of bone density.
Merck faces a number of lawsuits after patients taking Fosamax, also known as as a bisphosphonate or alendronate sodium, developed osteonecrosis of the jaw. This condition results in death of the actual jaw bone, which can cause serious dental problems and require surgery. In New Jersey, a number of individual cases were consolidated into a mass tort overseen by Judge Carol Higbee, which also includes Teva Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: TEVA) and Bayer Pharmaceuticals, who marketed generic versions of the drug.
Merck denies the allegations, and during earlier trials claimed other underlying health conditions caused patient's jaw problems, and that the company provided adequate warnings about potential side effects to physicians and patients. Last year, in the first New Jersey state court trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Merck, determining Fosamax did not cause osteonecrosis.
Besides the cases in state court, a number of Fosamax cases were consolidated in federal court before U.S. District Judge John Keenan in New York City. So far five cases have gone to trial, resulting in three verdicts for Merck, one plaintiff's verdict and one mistrial. In the sole plaintiff's victory, jurors initially awarded a Florida woman $8 million dollars, but Judge Keenan later reduced that to $1.5 million.
The current trial is scheduled to last at least three to four weeks and will be webcast live, gavel to gavel, by Courtroom View Network. CVN also recorded the only other New Jersey Fosamax trial so far, Rosenberg v. Merck in March of last year.
The cases are Jo Ann Sessner v. Merck Sharp & Dohme, Corp., ATL-L-3394-11 and Amelia Flores v. Merck Sharp & Dohme, Corp., ATL-L-744-09 in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Atlantic County.
Watch In re Fosamax live on Courtroom View Network starting February 27th for jury selection or March 1st for opening statements.