A little over a year after her death, the estate of Shirley Boles has reached a confidential damage award agreement with pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. over injuries she sustained from the drug Fosamax. Boles developed osteonecrosis of the jaw after taking the medication for several years. She filed a Fosamax lawsuit, and, after an initial mistrial, a jury awarded her $8 million for her personal injuries. A district judge would go on to lower the award amount to $1.5 million while upholding the verdict. Boles decided to go to trial again. Now, however, her estate as instead consented to the damages agreement.
Boles is just one of hundreds of plaintiffs to sue Merck over claims that their bone injuries are result of taking Fosamax, which is a bisphosphonate and one of the more popular osteoporosis treatment and bone strengthening medications in use-by women, in particular. Fosamax is also used to treat other bone disorders and Paget’s disease. Unfortunately, Fosamax is now linked to very serious side effects, including atypical femur fractures, osteonecrosis of the jaw, serious musculoskeletal pain, esophageal cancer, atrial fibrillation, inflammatory eye disease.
Earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration published an analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine that warned about taking bisphosphonates long-term. The worry is that after using them for years, the drugs can cause certain women’s bones to become weaker, potentially leading to the serious side effects. The FDA also found that after conducting its own review of how effective bisphosphonates are after several years of use, beyond three to five years there was little, if any, additional benefit for most patients unless the person was older and had a higher fracture risk and a bone density that was “osteoporotic.”
The reason bisphosphonates are often prescribed to women is that after age 30 it is not uncommon for their bones to begin dissolving faster than they can be rebuilt-especially after menopause. Bisphosphonates are supposed to slow down this process.
For a drug that is supposed to strengthen bones to cause serious bone injuries as a dangerous defect. Not only must the patient contend with the complication, but also, there is the necessary treatment, rehabilitation, and, hopefully, recovery, that can take a toll on one’s physical, mental, emotional, and financial well-being. For example, among the more recent Fosamax cases is one filed by a woman who claims she experienced two femur fractures in her thighs after she started taking the medication. In addition to the thigh breaks, the plaintiff contends that taking Fosamax caused her to suffer other side effects that have necessitated ongoing medical care.
Bisphosphonates for Osteoporosis – Where Do We Go from Here, New England Journal of Medicine, May 31, 2012
FDA: Possible increased risk of thigh bone fracture with bisphosphonates, FDA, October 13, 2010
Bisphosphonates (Osteoporosis Drugs): Label Change – Atypical Fractures Update, FDA, October 13, 2012
More Blog Posts:
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
Use of Ocella Birth Control Pill May Cause Higher Stroke Risk, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, October 3, 2012
If you suspect that taking Fosamax is the cause of your bone injuries or other serious health issues, do not hesitate to contact our drug litigation law firm as soon as possible. One of our Fosamax lawyers will be happy to provide you with a free case consultation.