Thursday, April 04, 2013

Merck’s Fosamax on Trial Again After First Case Halted

The second trial over claims Merck & Co. (MRK) hid risks that its Fosamax osteoporosis drug could cause femur fractures is scheduled to start next week after the plaintiff in the first case suffered a health problem.

The new trial, set to begin April 9 in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey, is among more than 3,300 lawsuits alleging Fosamax caused broken legs. Another 1,230 cases allege users sustained jaw-related injuries, Merck has said.

The first femur-fracture trial, which started last month in state court in Atlantic City, New Jersey, ended in a mistrial after the plaintiff, Christina Su, had a “serious health complication” unrelated to her use of Fosamax, Merck said in a March 18 statement on its website.

The new trial comes about two months after Merck said it expected profit to decline this year because of generic competition to its top-selling Singulair and research setbacks that slowed efforts to get new drugs to market.

Fosamax, approved for sale in the U.S. in 1995, generated sales of as much $3 billion a year until patent protection lapsed in 2008 and it faced competition from generic rivals. The drug is often prescribed for osteoporosis in women and for cancer sufferers worried about fractures from weakened bones.

Karen Menzies, one of Su’s lawyers, told a New Jersey jury on the opening day of her trial that officials at Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, hid the risks that Fosamax could weaken bones and lead to fractures.

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