Merck prevails in bellwether Fosamax case

Merck has prevailed in another Fosamax case to hit the courtroom, with a jury ruling that plaintiff Louise Maley didn't even have the osteonecrosis of the jaw her suit blamed on the drug. Maley's suit was just one of some 978 Fosamax cases linking the osteoporosis drug with ONJ. And it was one of three bellwether cases Judge John Keenan had set for hearing in his court.

Unfortunately, this case may not offer many hints to the outcome of future Fosamax cases. Merck was able to show that the plantiff had "multiple medical conditions" that could have led to her jaw and dental problems, Merck attorney Christy Jones says in a statement (as quoted by Bloomberg). No doubt that's a strategy the company can use in future trials.

But because the jury decided that Maley didn't have the jaw disorder blamed on Fosamax, it never had to consider "the bigger-picture issues like failure to warn," Maley's lawyer Timothy O'Brien said. So we don't get any indication of how a jury might rule on those issues.

September, a Fosamax case ended in a mistrial after the jury couldn't come to a unanimous decision. It's set to be retried in June. And another bellwether case is scheduled for trial this coming September. So we'll have to wait and see how those trials go.

- read the Bloomberg piece
- get more from Reuters