In the first-ever win on jawbone-death claims related to Fosamax, Merck’s osteoporosis drug, the jury awarded $8 million in compensatory damages to the plaintiff Shirley Boles.  The jury returned a verdict in Ms. Boles’ favor in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York after only a few hours of deliberating.  In returning a verdict for Ms. Boles, the jury found that Fosamax was a defective product and unreasonably dangerous due to its defective design, which caused Ms. Boles’ dead jaw, also known as osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ).  Additionally, the jury found Merck negligent in their design of Fosamax which caused Ms. Boles’ ONJ.

The nearly three week retrial came to an end with closing statements on June 24, 2010.  The plaintiff’s counsel argued that Fosamax is not effective for women like Ms. Boles with osteopenia (vs. osteoporosis), and caused Ms. Boles to develop ONJ.  The defense counsel disputed causation, and argued that other factors caused Ms. Boles’ injury.  The plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to consider a damage award of $5 million.  Following closing statements, Judge Keenan denied the defense counsel’s motion for a mistrial, rejecting the defense counsel’s claim that the plaintiff’s counsel tried to inflame the jury.

Fosamax and ONJ

Fosamax has some potentially serious side effects, the most devastating of which is a serious bone condition known as ONJ, in which the jawbone deteriorates due to lack of blood supply.  The first complaints linking Fosamax to ONJ came as early as 2000.  Then, in 2004, the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons published a groundbreaking article outlining the causal relationship between Fosamax use and ONJ.  This article, in turn, sparked an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) review of Fosamax, after which the FDA ordered Merck to include a revised warning label about ONJ on the drug.  By January 2008, the FDA issued a national Fosamax warning about ONJ, advising medical professionals to take patients off Fosamax if ONJ (or other bone diseases) start to develop.

Fosamax and Femur Fractures

Recently, Fosamax has been linked to atypical femur fractures, with patients reporting that after weeks or months of unexplained aching, their thighbones literally snap while they are walking or standing.  In March 2010, the FDA said it would take a closer look at this issue. The latest FDA review was prompted by media reports linking Fosamax and other bisphosphonate drugs to atypical subtrochanteric femur fractures in patients who have been on the drugs for several years. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, two studies presented at th eAmerican Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ annual meeting this past March suggest the drugs might adversely affect bone quality and increase the risk of atypical fractures of the femur when used for four or more years.

If you or a loved one have been injured by Fosamax (alendronate), you may be entitled to file a Fosamax lawsuit seeking compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other injuries. Contact a Fosamax lawyer at Bernstein Liebhard LLP at (877) 779-1414 or for a confidential and free case evaluation or visit our consumer advocacy website,

Since 1993, Bernstein Liebhard has pursued hundreds of cases on behalf of injured consumers and shareholders, recovering almost $3 billion for our clients. For seven consecutive years, The National Law Journal has named the Firm as one of the top plaintiff’s litigation firms in the country.

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ATTORNEY ADVERTISING. © 2010 Bernstein Liebhard LLP. The law firm responsible for this advertisement is Bernstein Liebhard LLP, 10 East 40th Street, New York, New York 10016, (212) 779-1414. Prior results do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future matter.

Contact Information
Felecia L. Stern, Esq.
Seth Ottensoser, Esq.
(877) 779-1414

Published July 1, 2010 by