$28 Million Settlement Reached with Merck for Fosamax Jaw-Injury Claims

A settlement agreement that includes claims of more than 1,200 plaintiffs in federal and state courts has been reached with Merck & Co. Inc. to pay $27.7 million related to the bone drug Fosamax. Fosamax has been claimed to have caused a condition known as osteonecrosis of the jaw. Osteonecrosis is a serious bone disease first associated with high doses of bisphosphanates used for oncology patients. Even lower doses of bisphosphanates have been associated with this condition. Fosamax contains some of this product used for patients with bone disorders, such as osteoporosis.

The settlement was reached after a district court judge handling the multidistrict litigation (MDL) ordered 200 cases per month sent back to their home courts for further disposition and trial. None of the transfers had occurred before the settlement was reached. 

This litigation began in 2005 with seven bellwether trials having gone to jury verdicts. Merck was successful in winning five of those cases, but also lost two cases in which the verdicts were $285,000 and $8 million. The latter verdict was later reduced to $1.5 million. This settlement does not include another set of cases alleging that Fosamax causes femur fractures.  Those claims are in a separate multidistrict litigation federal court and are still pending.

The settlement is contingent upon a 100% participation rate, which means that each of the approximately 1,200 plaintiffs must accept the settlement terms and were to have agreed to the settlement by Jan. 13, 2014 and deliver 100% of the releases by March 31, 2014. Merck reserves the right to terminate the agreement should those requirements not be met.

The settlement amount of $27.7 million includes attorney fees and all of plaintiffs’ medical liens. The allocation of the settlement among the eligible claimants is being handled by the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee. 

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling mass tort cases involving pharmaceutical defects and medical device defects for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Wheeling, Cicero, Oak Lawn, Chicago Heights, Berwyn, Carol Stream, Lombard, Bolingbrook, Naperville, Schaumburg and Crete, Ill.

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