On Monday, the jury in the latest case against the manufacturer of Fosamax found in favor of Merck. The trial, Secrest v. Merck, was the fourth case to go to trial involving allegations that Merck knew their drug, Fosamax, caused a rare dental injury called osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), also known as “dead jaw”. This is the third favorable verdict for Merck. One of the four trials resulted in a Plaintiff’s verdict. A fifth case was dismissed before trial.
Many are speculating on the reasons for the jury’s verdict. Lawyers for Merck attributed the verdict to Mrs. Secrest’s medical history and her history of dental issues. Mrs. Secrest’s attorneys attributed the verdict to legal determinations by the Judge overseeing the case, including his decision to dismiss a “failure to warn” claim against Merck as well as his jury instructions. ().
This is a disappointment to anyone who suffered ONJ after chronically taking Fosamax. ONJ sufferers’ dentists and oral surgeons are typically convinced that Fosamax caused this painful and serious condition. Those actually dealing with the symptoms, including extreme pain, tooth loss and facial depression, are even more dismayed.
There will be another ONJ trial in February 2012 in the State Court of New Jersey, Atlantic County which will be watched closely by everyone involved in the Fosamax litigation.