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Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Suffers Setback in Latest Case Over Fosamax


2/6/2013 7:25:06 AM

A federal jury on Tuesday ordered Merck & Co Inc to pay $285,000 in a lawsuit over the risks of its osteoporosis drug Fosamax, the second loss for the company after several earlier trials. The eight-person jury in U.S. District Court in Manhattan found that Merck failed to warn plaintiff Rhoda Scheinberg's doctors of the risks associated with Fosamax. The jury rejected the plaintiff's argument that Fosamax was a defective product. More than 4,000 lawsuits are pending in federal and state courts arising out of injuries allegedly caused by the one-time blockbuster medication. Seven cases have now gone to trial, and Merck has won five and lost two. This latest trial was one of the so-called "bellwether" cases in the Fosamax litigation. Judges order bellwethers in mass litigation to assess trends and outcomes that could play out in similar lawsuits. A string of wins by plaintiffs could, for example, give them a stronger hand in settlement talks with defendants to end all of the cases. Lawyers for Scheinberg, a 69-year-old New York resident, contended Fosamax caused her to suffer delayed healing and a bone disease of the jaw after a tooth extraction. The jury found that Merck's failure to warn of the drug's risks was a cause of her injury. "With this victory, this litigation has a renewed purpose and a renewed focus," Tim O'Brien, a lawyer for Scheinberg who also represents other plaintiffs in Fosamax lawsuits, said in a statement.

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