dead jaw syndrome

Merck agrees to proposed $27.7 million settlement over Fosamax lawsuits

Merck & Co Inc said on Monday that it was prepared to pay $27.7 million to settle lawsuits by hundreds of people who sued the company over allegations that its osteoporosis drug Fosamax caused bones in the jaw to deteriorate.

Lawyers for Merck and plaintiffs disclosed the proposed settlement at a court hearing in New York to resolve 1,140 lawsuits pending in federal and state courts. Any settlement would need to be approved by a judge.

Merck, which confirmed the agreement later on Monday, said the accord requires a 100 percent participation rate and evidence that the claimants satisfy eligibility requirements. The deal covers about 1,200 people, the company said.

“We hope to bring this to a successful conclusion,” Paul Strain, a lawyer for Merck, said at the hearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan before Judge John Keenan, who has presided over federal litigation by plaintiffs claiming that they developed osteonecrosis of the jaw from taking Fosamax.

The condition is a disease that causes bones in the jaw to deteriorate or die.

The settlement would resolve a large portion of the 5,255 product liability cases facing Merck over Fosamax, a one-time blockbuster drug with $3 billion in sales in 2007.

Fosamax Side Effects | Problems With Esophagus & Femur Pain

Doctors prescribe Fosamax to prevent age-related bone damage.

The drug can cause minor side effects including abdominal pain, acid regurgitation and constipation. In rare cases, people who take the drug may suffer from serious side effects such as femur fractures, jaw problems and esophageal ulcers.

For many people, one of the worries that comes with getting older is the risk of developing osteoporosis. This debilitating disease makes bones so brittle they easily break.

When Fosamax (alendronate) was introduced in 1995, it was promoted as the solution to osteoporosis and other bone-damaging diseases. However, studies show that the drug causes serious side effects that may be more problematic than osteoporosis itself.

The drug’s manufacturer, Merck, says the most common side effects include gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, diarrhea, constipation and cramping. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration documented several of the drug’s more serious side effects and subsequently distributed numerous warnings.

Though rare, severe health problems associated with Fosamax can be crippling. These include femur fractures, Dead Jaw Syndrome, esophagus problems and musculoskeletal pain.

Some of these side effects led people to file Fosamax lawsuits against Merck.

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