Merck & Co., the drugmaker facing 900 lawsuits over claims that its osteoporosis drug Fosamax causes the death of jawbone tissue, goes to trial this week. The trial in New York of the first case of the group, filed by Shirley Boles, 71, will be one of three cases to go this summer.
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 jawbone-tissue death and leading to partial removal in some patients. Jawbone tissue death is called osteonecrosis of the jaw, or ONJ.
The patients claim Merck didn’t sufficiently warn about the drug’s risks when it changed the label in 2005. “They were the only drug company not to use the language that the FDA requested,” O’Brien said, referring to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Merck says the drug is safe and effective.