Merck & Co Inc. has offered to pay $27.7 million to settle 1,140 lawsuits filed by people who alleged that the company’s bone drug, Fosamax, caused deterioration of the jaw bone. Attorneys representing the plaintiffs and counsel for Merck disclosed the proposed settlement in court on December 9, 2013. The Fosamax settlement will have to be approved by the court, and all plaintiffs must participate in the settlement.
Fosamax is used to treat or prevent osteoporosis by slowing bone loss and increasing bone mass. The cases in the Fosamax settlement were brought by people claiming that Fosamax caused osteonecrosis of the jaw—a disease that causes bone to deteriorate or die. This can require the removal of parts of the jaw.
Even if the court approves the settlement, plaintiffs have until March 31 to opt out of it. Merck has until May 15 to back out of the settlement.
The Fosamax settlement would not cover 4,115 lawsuits brought by people who alleged other kinds of injuries from Fosamax. Fosamax has also been linked to osteonecrosis of the shoulder, knee, and hip, as well as a risk of femur fractures that occur even in the absence of trauma to the leg.