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MSD wins Fosamax case

A US federal court has ruled in favour of MSD after a woman took the pharmaceutical company to trial based on dental problems she blamed on osteoporosis treatment Fosamax

A US federal court has ruled in favour of MSD (known as Merck in the US and Canada) after a woman took the pharmaceutical company to trial based on dental problems she blamed on on osteoporosis treatment Fosamax (alendronate sodium).

Chilton Varner of King & Spalding LLP, outside counsel for MSD, said: "We believe the company acted properly. Unfortunately, the plaintiff had medical problems that cause people to develop the jaw and dental problems that the plaintiff has, regardless of whether they were taking Fosamax. She has a long history of invasive dental procedures and suffers from medical conditions that inhibit the body's ability to heal."

Osteonecrosis of the jaw, generally associated with tooth extraction, has been reported in patients taking bisphosphonates, including Fosamax. In a statement, MSD said patients who develop osteonecrosis of the jaw while on bisphosphonate therapy should receive care by an oral surgeon.

It is the fifth time MSD has had to defend Fosamax in court, and the fourth case the company has won.

In June, 2010, MSD lost the Boles v. Merck case, paying out $8m to the plaintiff. The case was a retrial after the initial case ended in a mis-trial in September 2009. MSD said it intends to appeal the case after the damages portion is retried.

Bruce N Kuhlik, executive vice president and general counsel of MSD, said: "We continue to believe that Fosamax is a safe and effective medication and the company provided appropriate and timely information about Fosamax to consumers and to the medical, scientific and regulatory communities."

There are currently around 1,650 cases pending against MSD in the US in either federal or state court.

4th October 2011

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