Merck faces bellwether Fosamax lawsuit

The first of some 900 lawsuits filed against Merck claiming that its osteoporosis drug Fosamax causes osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) is set to go to trial this week in New York, according to a story on

The complaint is considered one of three bellwether cases that could pave the way for out-of-court settlements, according to Bloomberg.

Merck faced about 900 Fosamax cases as of June 30, including suits with multiple patients, according to Bloomberg. At present, there are as many as 1,200 plaintiffs in state and federal cases, according to Merck, although a lawyer representing 400 of the plaintiffs told Bloomberg the number is closer to 2,000.

The case is being heard by U.S. District Judge John Keenan, who has already ruled out the possibility of punitive damages and rejected Merck's request to find in its favor without a trial. He has also denied a request to treat the litigation as a class-action lawsuit.

The Fosamax plaintiffs claim Merck misrepresented the drug's safety and failed to warn doctors and patients that it might hamper blood flow to the jaw, causing ONJ. Merck disputes the claims, saying there's no reliable evidence the medicine causes the bone condition, Bloomberg reported.

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