Bisphosphonates—which belong to a class of drugs used to treat bone loss—made headlines this week when settlement negotiations ended in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) handling Fosamax lawsuits and one New York woman won her case against the makers of Zometa.

In the news for Fosamax, a drug widely prescribed to treat osteoporosis and bone loss, Ring of Fire radio recently reported that the plaintiff’s steering committee for the MDL asked Judge John Keenan, the U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York, to announce an end date for the MDL, which was coordinated in November 2011 to handle the 1,500 lawsuits against Merck & Co., the makers of Fosamax. These cases were filed by patients who allegedly suffered osteonecrosis of the jaw (jaw bone death).

The request was made just a few weeks after Merck moved the Court to require all plaintiffs to submit “Lone Pine” orders, or expert reports before any discovery found in the proceedings, on Oct. 16. According to Ring of Fire Radio, this is highly unusual in multidistrict litigation proceedings. Fosamax was approved by the FDA in 2005.

On the other hand, in the mounting litigation involving Zometa, another bisphosphonate, one New York woman won $10.45 million in a lawsuit she filed against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. after incurring jawbone damage. A New York jury issued the verdict on Nov.2, 2012.

For her injuries, plaintiff Barbara Davids was awarded $10 million in punitive damages and $450,000 in compensatory damages. Her attorney, John Vecchione, released the following statement to Bloomberg News after the verdict was issued:

“What’s happening is these juries are seeing very bad behavior,” Vecchione said in a phone interview. “These juries are finding this evidence particularly egregious.”

Davids was originally prescribed Zometa as a component to her treatment for breast cancer, which caused her bone complications. She developed osteonecrosis as a result of taking the drug.

Published November 7, 2012 by