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Judge Delays Fosamax Dispersal so Parties Have Time to Possibly Settle

Oct 7, 2013

A federal judge overseeing a New York-based multidistrict litigation (MDL) over jaw injuries related to the drug Fosamax — a bisphosphonate used in the treatment of diseases that cause bone loss, such as osteoporosis — has delayed an earlier ruling in order to give the parties time to reach a settlement.

According to court documents, U.S. District Judge John Keenan has ordered that the cases involved in the consolidated lawsuit start returning to their home courts on Dec. 2. He had previously ordered the cases to begin this dispersal on Nov. 1. Keenan said the extra month should provide the two sides with suitable time to potentially work out a settlement.

About 1,000 cases remain in the Fosamax jaw injury MDL. The plaintiffs involved ingested the widely prescribed Fosamax to prevent bone loss caused by diseases such as osteoporosis – and wound up developing a painful and even more serious condition, osteonecrosis of the jaw bone.

Based on our previous reporting, osteonecrosis is the death of the jaw bone; it is also only one of the oft-reported side effects among resulting from the taking of Fosamax. Another serious injury linked to Fosamax and other bisphosphonate drugs is an atypical fracture of the femur, or thigh bone, one of the strongest bones in the body, which is typically only injured in major accidents, such as car collisions.

In September, Judge Keenan ordered that 200 cases per month be sent back to the courts where they were initially filed, starting with the oldest first, according to court documents.

An Aug. 30 Reuters report noted that the cases in the MDL before Keenan make up about one-fifth of the 5,075 Fosamax-related lawsuits pending in federal and state courts, and that in the case of the New York-based MDL, plaintiffs’ lawyers had sought to have 300 cases transferred every four months, while Merck had sought to schedule only 100 cases for discovery over a six-month period.

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