Chance of Settlement in Fosamax Case


Strong competition from major pharmaceutical firms, massive layoffs and a potentially pricey legal maneuver are prompting news analysts and observers to ponder about a possible settlement by Merck in the ongoing multidistrict litigation involving the controversial medication Fosamax.

Alendronic acid or alendronate is a medication manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Merck mainly for the treatment of osteoporosis. In the United States, this medication is marketed and prescribed as Fosamax. Among the various side effects associated with Fosamax, necrosis of the jaw is one of the most serious. This side effect prompted hundreds of plaintiffs from around the country to file lawsuits against Merck.

The Fosamax lawsuits piled on at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, where they were eventually consolidated under Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) 1789. In late August 2013, the judge presiding over MDL 1789 ordered the cases to be returned to the jurisdictions where they were originally filed. The ordered was issued with the intent of holding trials for the cases at the rate of 200 per month.

U.S. District Judge John Keenan is no stranger to multidistrict litigation involving prescription medications. He has presided over high profile cases such as Vioxx, a painkiller also manufactured and marketed by Merck. By ordering a number of trials back to their original jurisdiction, Judge Keenan hopes to establish a clear frame of reference with regard to the changes of the plaintiffs and defendant Merck in the Fosamax case.

The Fosamax Trials Delay

In early October, Judge Keenan ordered the delay of the Fosamax trial by one month. The trials were set to start on November 1st, but plaintiffs will now have to wait until December 2nd before they can face Merck in court.

This court-ordered delay can be interpreted as an opportunity for the Merck legal teams to sit down and contemplate the possibility of a settlement in the case. In the meantime, new Fosamax lawsuits can be filed. Fosamax gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) back in 1995. Complaints against Fosamax allege that this medication actually causes bone loss instead of alleviating osteoporosis.


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