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NJ Fosamax Fracture Lawsuit Opening Arguments Include Claims that Merck was Aware its Osteoporosis Drug Increased Fracture Risks

Apr 9, 2013

The second trial over a lawsuit alleging Merck’s Fosamax caused femur fractures started today in New Jersey federal court with the case of 58-year old Bernadette Glynn, who claims that Merck’s osteoporosis drug is one reason why she broke her leg back in 2009.

Glynn and her husband, Richard Glynn, sued Merck in September 2011, alleging that Fosamax causes serious and fatal injuries.

Glynn claims that Merck’s Fosamax weakened her femur, ultimately causing her leg to break when she fell in her driveway. The jury trial, which started today, is expected to last about three weeks.

This would actually be the second case against Merck for its Fosamax drug. The earlier one ended in a mistrial when the plaintiff became severely ill during proceedings; her sudden illness was unrelated to her taking of Fosamax, it was revealed.

The second-largest drug maker in the U.S. is facing more than 3,300 lawsuits that claim Fosamax caused femurs to deteriorate, as well as some 1,230 allegations that Fosamax caused jaw fractures.

According to a research report made available in 2010, Fosamax and rival bone-loss drugs may pose high risks of thighbone fractures. About 94% of 310 patients who had suffered uncommon types of thighbone fractures were reported to be taking a bisphosphonate-based drug. The majority was taking the medicine for more than five years.

Fosamax was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1995 to treat and prevent postmenopausal osteoporosis and to treat other bone loss, including weakened bones following some cancer treatments. In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated the safety information on Fosamax to warn about the risk of atypical femur fractures. The agency has also published a review in The New England Journal of Medicine suggesting that there is little benefit from taking bisphosphonates for longer than five years. The findings were based on trials involving 2,342 postmenopausal women.

According to a September 2010 report in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, as many as 94 percent of 310 patients who had an uncommon type of fracture to the thighbone were also taking a bisphosphonate-based drug – and most of them had been taking the medicine for more than five years, according to the report.

Fosamax along with other osteoporosis drugs have become widely over-prescribed, reported, noting that diagnoses of the ailment have taken off since the assessment method was changed. The method for evaluating osteoporosis was once based on clinical criteria, such as prior bone fracture; now, however, the key indicator stems from the results of testing bone-mass density instead, reported

The World Health Organization is probing the “arbitrary” ways of diagnosis, Glynn’s lawyers said in the complaint.

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