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Novartis Ordered to Pay $10.45M Drug Injury Award to Woman Who Developed Jawbone Damage After Taking Zometa

A jury is ordering Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. to pay plaintiff Barbara Davids $10.45 million for osteonecrosis of the jaw injuries she says she sustained because she took the drug Zometa. The award is comprised of $450,000 in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.

Per her drug injury lawsuit, Davids claims that she developed bone death in her jaw after she took Zometa, which is a bisphosphonate that is used to treat bone complications resulting from cancer. Bisphosphonates, which are supposed to help with certain bone conditions, are now being linked to a greater risk of ONJ.

Davids believes that Novartis has known for some time that Zometa may cause serious jawbone complications. Her products liability lawyers even provided during trial an email from 2003 in which one of the pharmaceutical company’s marketing employees talks about a proposed report connecting the drug to the complications, describing it as very damaging. That employee also sent another email proposing a public relations imitative and other “next steps” in case the paper were to be published-although the ideal scenario appeared to be for it to never see the light of day.

This is the fourth victory for plaintiffs out of eight Zometa injury trials related to jawbone injuries. In 2010, a jury awarded the family of a woman $12.8 million against Novartis. Rita Fussman passed away from breast cancer in 2009. Her family says that before her death, she experienced unnecessary discomfort after she developed ONJ because she took Zometa and Areda. $287,009 of the $12.8 million is for compensatory damages. $12.6 million is for punitive damages.

Osteonecrosis of the Jaw
ONJ happens when the bone in the jaw starts to die. This condition has been linked to cancer treatment, steroid use, infection, and bisphosphonate use. Symptoms may not arise for weeks or months. When they do they can include gum loss, gum or jaw infection, swelling, pain, teeth coming loose, numbness, heaviness in the jaw, exposed bone, and drainage. The condition itself can be very emotionally traumatic.

Another drug that is also frequently linked to osteonecrosis of the jaw is Fosamax, which is often prescribed to treat Paget’s disease and osteoporosis. While this bisphosphonate is supposed to make bones stronger, it has been associated not just with ONJ but also with fractures and broken bones. Long-term use of Fosamax appears to increase the bone injury risk.

Over the years, hundreds of plaintiffs have filed their dangerous drug lawsuits for complications caused by bisphosphonates. You want to work with an ONJ drug injury law firm that knows how to pursue your claim for damages.

Novartis Jury Awards $10.45 Million for Drug, Lawyer Says, Bloomberg, November 2, 2012

Jury awards $12.8M in bone-drug lawsuit, Winston-Salem Journal, November 25, 2010
Bisphosphonates (marketed as Actonel, Actonel+Ca, Aredia, Boniva, Didronel, Fosamax, Fosamax+D, Reclast, Skelid, and Zometa) Information, FDA

More Blog Posts:
Fosamax Lawsuit: Merck and Estate of Woman Who Suffered from Osteonecrosis of the Jaw Reach Confidential Damage Award Agreement, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, October 17, 2012

New FDA Report Suggests Exercising Caution About Using Fosamax Long-Term, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, May 11, 2012

Meningitis Outbreak Linked to Massachusetts Pharma Company, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, October 16, 2012

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