Federal Judge Reduces Damage Award in Fosamax Case


U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan reduced the damage award against pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck in a Fosamax lawsuit from $8 million to $1.5 million. In his ruling, Judge Keenan deemed the damage award in the defective drug claim to be unreasonably high. However, he denied Merck’s request for a defense verdict or a retrial. The victim has the option to accept the reduced verdict or to roll the dice on a new trial in the hopes of receiving a greater damage award.

The defective drug claim was brought by Shirley Boles, a 72-year-old woman who developed osteonecrosis of the jaw after taking Fosamax. This is the second verdict delivered in trials related to Fosamax. The first verdict went in favor of Merck. A third trial will begin later in October, and several others are scheduled to begin next year.

The victims suing Merck have all alleged that the pharmaceutical company misrepresented the drug’s safety and was negligent in warning doctors and patients of the potential risk of developing osteonecrosis. Osteonecrosis, or jawbone tissue death, is caused by a lack of proper blood flow to the jaw.

Attorneys for Merck have argued that the evidence clearly demonstrated that Fosamax did not cause the victim’s osteonecrosis and they maintain that Fosamax is safe for consumption. Based on the federal judge’s ruling, he apparently believed that while the damage award was excessive, there was enough evidence to warrant the jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff.