October hasn't been a good month for Big Pharma in liability court. First, GlaxoSmithKline lost its bellwether case over Paxil's alleged potential to cause birth defects. Now, Novartis has come out on the losing end of a Montana case over its bone-strengthening drug Zometa.
A Missoula jury awarded $3.2 million to Peggy L. Stevens, whose suit claimed that Novartis could have and should have done more to warn patients that the drug was linked to osteonecrosis of the jaw. As the first of some 550 plaintiffs' claims to reach trial, the case was closely watched for clues.
"I think it will have a huge significance," Terry Trieweiler, Stevens' attorney, told the Associated Press. "The basic facts regarding Novartis' conduct are the same in every case. In terms of Novartis' failure to adequately warn doctors, those facts are now fairly well established." The next Zometa-related trial is scheduled for March 2010.