Thursday, August 6, 2009
The first Fosamax trial is set to begin Tuesday in federal court in New York. Merck is facing about 850 lawsuits alleging that Fosamax, a widely used osteoporosis drug, increases the risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). Most of the cases have been transferred to multidistrict litigation before Judge John Keenan in the Southern District of New York. Over 100 other cases are pending before Judge Carol Higbee (who oversaw much of the Vioxx litigation) in New Jersey Superior Court. In the MDL, Judge Keenan has scheduled three cases to go forward as bellwether trials. Plaintiff Shirley Boles is set for August 11, Bessie Fleming for Dec. 1, 2009, and Karen Greene for Jan. 11, 2010.
Last week, according to a Bloomberg news report, Judge Keenan rejected Merck's motion for summary judgment on Boles' compensatory damages claims but he granted the motion as to punitive damages, so the Boles trial will go forward solely on compensatory damages.
Since this is the first trial in the Fosamax mass tort litigation, lawyers involved in Fosamax cases undoubtedly will be paying close attention both to see the other side's trial strategy and to see how a jury responds to the evidence.
Here are links to a Bloomberg report on the upcoming trial and the court's rejection of punitive damages, entries of July 24 and July 31 on AboutLawsuits.com, and a statement released last week by Merck putting its own spin on Fosamax and ONJ.