Merck prevails in fourth Fosamax trial

Another bellwether Fosamax case is wrapped up, with another victory for Merck. A Manhattan jury found for the company ($MRK) in a case filed by Florida patient Linda Secrest, who claimed she suffered jaw problems because she used the blockbuster osteoporosis treatment.

It's the fourth Fosamax suit to go to trial and the fifth bellwether case to be decided. Merck prevailed in two trials; the third trial ended in an $8 million verdict against the company; and another case was tossed out before trial. A judge later ruled that the $8 million award was excessive, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog points out. Those damages were knocked down to $1.5 million, and Merck is appealing.

Merck still faces more than 1,600 pending Fosamax cases. The bellwether decisions are significant because they sketch out the relevant legal issues--and indicate which way juries might lean. Whether the latest Merck victory will inspire Fosamax plaintiffs to settle, however, remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Secrest's lawyer, Timothy O'Brien, said he intends to appeal. The trial judge dismissed a failure-to-warn claim against Merck and instructed the jury that a product is presumed non-defective if FDA-approved--two moves that O'Brien called improper, the Law Blog writes.

- read the WSJ Law Blog post