(NaturalNews) Drug maker Merck & Co., creator of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil, has been ordered to pay $285,000 to a New York woman for injuries resulting from its osteoporosis drug, Fosamax. The U.S. District Court in Manhattan ruled that Merck failed to warn the woman about the potential side effects of taking the high-risk bone drug, which include degenerative jaw disease.
The company's second ever loss in a case involving Fosamax, the suit alleged that Merck withheld crucial information about the dangers of Fosamax from patients and their doctors. Rhoda Scheinberg, the 69-year-old woman who filed this latest lawsuit, says the drug caused her much pain and grief after a tooth extraction. Not only did she heal much more slowly, but she also developed a serious jaw disease known as osteonecrosis.
Scheinberg, who took Fosamax between October 2000 and September 2006, also accused Merck of selling a defective drug, presumably due to the fact that thousands of other former Fosamax users have also developed serious jaw conditions. But the eight-person jury ultimately rejected this claim, sticking instead with the lack of disclosure allegations, which it determined were, indeed, the cause of Scheinberg's injuries.
"With this victory, this litigation has a renewed purpose and a renewed focus," said Tim O'Brien, Scheinberg's lawyer. O'Brien is also representing various others who have experienced injuries as a result of taking Fosamax.
Those injured by Fosamax now have a much better chance at finding justice
According to Reuters, the court designated this latest case as a "bellwether," which means it not only stands to set a precedent for future cases but also serves as an indicator of how these future cases will be determined. In other words, the more successful lawsuits there are against Fosamax, the greater the chances that Merck will agree to an umbrella settlement in which all injured persons are compensated.
"A warning is not automatically sufficient simply because it includes certain 'magic words,'" ruled Judge John Keenan, noting that Merck's inadequate safety label for Fosamax also failed to mention the drug's limited efficacy. "The court does not accept that simply because the Fosamax label mentions the malady 'osteonecrosis of the jaw,' it is sufficient as a matter of law," explained Judge Keenan. "Rather, whether the name of the malady incurred by plaintiff was included is but one consideration in evaluating the Fosamax label 'as a whole.'"
Numerous key witnesses, including Scheinberg's physician, reportedly testified at length about the inherent deception in the Fosamax label. Dr. Suzanne Parisian told the court that, if she had known about the serious nature of Fosamax, she would never have prescribed it to her patient. Merck's label for the drug, which had been altered from the one recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), also fails to convey the serious dangers associated with taking Fosamax long term.
"This is a victory for those injured by Fosamax," says Rochelle Rottenstein, Principal of the Rottenstein Law Group, which is also involved in Fosamax litigation. "It's a good sign for those who might have been unsure if pursuing a Fosamax lawsuit was a good idea. Those people should now be further encouraged to contact a lawyer to determine if they have a case."