Consolidation Ordered for Fosamax Fracture Lawsuits

More than three dozen lawsuits alleging the osteoporosis drug Fosamax caused plaintiffs to suffer low-impact femur fractures have been consolidated in a mulitdistrict litigation and transferred to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey for pretrial proceedings. Judge Garrett E. Brown, Jr. will preside over the <"">Fosamax fracture lawsuits.

Last year, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) asked the manufacturers of bisphosphonates, including Fosamax, to add information to the “Warnings and Precautions” section of the drugs’ labels describing the risk of atypical thigh fractures. The FDA’s action was prompted by a study of more than 300 women who had suffered subtrochanteric (just below the hip joint) or diaphyseal femur (breaks in the long part of the thigh bone) fractures found that 94 percent had taken bisphosphonates for osteoporosis, and most had been on the drugs for five years or more. Since then, Fosamax has been named in numerous lawsuits over bone fractures.

In March, Merck, the maker of Fosamax, requested that Fosamax fracture lawsuits be consolidated in a multidistrict litigation. The company had also requested that the litigation be transferred to New Jersey, where its headquarters is based, and assigned to Judge Brown. Because two-thirds of the Fosamax lawsuits had already been filed in New Jersey, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation agreed to that venue. The panel’s Transfer Order was filed Monday

All of the Fosamax lawsuits allege that Merck failed to adequately warn about the risk of femur fractures from Fosamax, or that users should seek immediate medical attention if they experience groin pain. As we’ve reported previously, groin pain often precedes these types of atypical femur fractures by several weeks.

An MDL allows lawsuits associated with a particular product to be coordinated under one judge for pretrial litigation to avoid duplicative discovery, inconsistent rulings and to conserve the resources of the parties, witnesses and the court. When lawsuits are consolidated as a multidistrict litigation, each retains its own identity. If the multidistrict litigation process does not resolve the cases, they are transferred back to the court where they originated for trial.

Fosamax lawsuits claiming the drug caused dead jaw syndrome were already consolidated in an MDL in New York in 2006. Because the Fosamax fracture lawsuits involve substantially different issues, and because the jaw litigation is at an advanced state, the broken bone claims were excluded from the New York litigation.

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