Merck & Co is reportedly offering $27.7 million to settle a group of claims in the US that its osteoporosis drug Fosamax (alendronate) caused osteonecrosis of the jaw, otherwise known as 'jaw death', in hundreds of patients.

The firm made the offer in a New York court this week in order to lay to rest around 1,200 lawsuits pending across the country, actioned by patients claiming that the drug caused jaw deterioration.

If the settlement is approved by a judge it would clear a substantial portion of the 5,255 product liability cases Merck is facing over Fosamax, with the remainder relating to problems with other bones injuries such as femoral fractures, reports Reuters.

Fosamax was once a huge earner for Merck, bringing in sales of $3 billion at its peak in 2007 before losing patent protection in 2008.