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Merck Sued Over Fosamax Health Risks

April 11, 2006|From Bloomberg News

Merck & Co., which faces more than 9,000 lawsuits over its Vioxx painkiller, misrepresented the safety of its osteoporosis drug Fosamax by withholding warnings that it could kill jawbone tissue, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.

Linda Secrest, 59, sued Merck, accusing it of failing to warn doctors and patients that Fosamax could hamper blood flow to the jaw. Secrest, who began taking the drug in 2000, says she was diagnosed with jawbone tissue death in 2005. The condition is irreversible.

Merck should be ordered to change the Fosamax prescribing information given to doctors and pay the cost of medical monitoring for users, Secrest says.

The complaint, in federal court in Fort Myers, Fla., seeks to represent more than 10 million Fosamax users. It is the second of about 200 suits that Secrest's attorney, Tim O'Brien, said he planned to file.

Merck spokesman Chris Loder said claims of jawbone tissue death caused by Fosamax were "exceedingly rare." A warning notice was added to the drug's label in July 2005 at the Food and Drug Administration's request, he said.

Fosamax and Fosamax Plus D together are the most-prescribed medicine for osteoporosis in post-menopausal women.

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