Novartis properly warned of Zometa's risks, jury decides

Novartis ($NVS) prevailed in the latest court battle over jawbone injuries in Zometa patients. The company did properly warn patients about the drug's risks, a New Jersey jury determined after a 13-day trial.

The jury voted 7-1 in Novartis' favor, in a case pitting plaintiff and Zometa user Beverly Meng against the Swiss drugmaker. It was the second Zometa case to go to trial in state court and one of many consolidated in the New Jersey court.

Novartis has been fighting hundreds of claims of osteonecrosis of the jaw in patients who used the bisphosphonate treatment for osteoporosis. The entire class of drugs has carried FDA warnings about the risk of jawbone death since 2005. The agency has considered placing limits on use of the bone treatments, particularly on long-term treatment, but so far hasn't done so.

Zometa has already reached the end of its patent life; it lost exclusivity in March. Novartis had tried to develop it for breast cancer treatment but pulled its FDA application for that use in 2010. The new indication would have given the company another three years of Zometa exclusivity. The company brought in more than $1 billion in sales last year.

- read the news at Law 360 (sub. req.)

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