Merck & Co has emerged victorious in the first state court case alleging a link between jaw problems and the use of its osteoporosis drug Fosamax.
In a vote of confidence for US drugmaker, a state court jury in New Jersey found in its favor by rejecting the claims of a Alison Rosenberg that years of Fosamax (alendronate) use caused her to suffer osteonecrosis of the jaw, otherwise known as 'jaw death'.
Rosenberg said she took Fosamax, which is approved for use in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, from 1999 to 2006, and that she suffered various jaw problems following a tooth extraction in December 2005.
But the court dismissed her allegations. "Unfortunately, the plaintiff had medical conditions that can cause people to develop jaw and dental problems, regardless of whether they were taking Fosamax", explained Christy Jones of Butler, Snow, O'Mara, Stevens & Cannada PLLC, outside counsel for Merck, adding: "She had an extensive history of periodontal and endodontic treatments and she took a number of powerful steroid medications that are known to suppress the body's immune system and inhibit the body's ability to heal".
Furthermore, Merck said it presented evidence to show it had acted responsibly in researching and developing Fosamax and monitoring the medicine following its entry onto the market, with pre- and post-approval trials involving more than 28,000 patients.
Rosenberg’s lawyers are reportedly “deeply disappointed” by the court's decision, and are still deciding whether to lodge an appeal, according to the media.
The company is still facing almost 1,200 cases alleging that its drug for jaw deterioration.