Osteoporosis Drug Loses High Fiscal Ranking as Fosamax Lawsuits Rise
After a disappointing fiscal year and a rising number of Fosamax lawsuits, Merck & Co.’s controversial osteoporosis-drug is no longer listed as one of its “Top Pharmaceutical Products,” reported Ring of Fire radio this week.
As seen in the company’s third-quarter financial filings for 2012, global sales for the year are expected to top out at less than $700 million, with Fosamax revenues experiencing a 29 percent drop compared to last year.
These results represent quite a change from the mid-2000s, when Fosamax sales peaked at more than $3.5 billion per year.
So, what caused this severe financial drop-off? The growing amount of users who suffered atypical femur fractures and osteonecrosis of the jaw (bone death) after taking the drug, most likely. On Oct. 31, it was reported by Ring of Fire radio that the plaintiff’s steering committee for the multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving Fosamax lawsuits asked for an end date to the proceedings. This request was made roughly a year after the MDL was created in the Southern District of New York, and overseen by U.S. District Judge, John Keenan, who was chosen to handle the 1,500 Fosamax lawsuits pending in federal court.
The negative press associated with Fosamax extends beyond the courtroom, though. Roughly two years ago, the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) drafted a position paper asking for heavier warnings about the spontaneous femur fracture side effects linked to Fosamax. Then, in 2011, Elizabeth Shane, M.D., the President of the organization took a step further when she spoke before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Joint Advisory Committee:
“We recommend that bisphosphonates be reserved for patients who are at high-risk of fracture,” she said.
Plaintiffs who are continuing to file Fosamax lawsuits allege that its maker, Merck & Co., failed to warn consumers of these risks.