Merck & Co., the second-biggest U.S. drugmaker, said a jury found in its favor in a trial over claims its Fosamax osteoporosis treatment caused a woman’s femur to fracture spontaneously while she was gardening.
The verdict was handed down today in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey, Merck said in a statement, and it couldn’t immediately be confirmed in court records. The case is the first of about 3,300 femur-fracture lawsuits against the company to be decided by a jury.
Bernadette Glynn, 58, sued Merck over claims the company, based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, was aware Fosamax might cause brittle bones and increase fracture risks years before the drug was made available to the public. The case was seen as a bellwether for how other cases might be resolved.
“The company provided appropriate and timely information about Fosamax to consumers and the medical, scientific and regulatory communities,” Bruce Kuhlik, Merck’s general counsel, said in the statement.
At the start of the three-week trial, Merck’s lawyer, Chilton Varner, said consultants’ early warnings about the drug were “theoretical” and that early studies showed people who took Fosamax instead of a placebo had fewer fractures.
“We are of disappointed in the verdict in Mrs. Glynn’s case,” her lawyer, Paul Pennock, said in an e-mail. “We will, however, continue the important efforts to hold Merck accountable for their conduct with respect to Fosamax.”
Glynn, an elementary school worker from Cohoes, New York, who regularly takes long bike rides and yoga classes, claimed Fosamax weakened her femur over a seven-year period, causing the thigh bone to snap in April 2009, when she bent over in her garage to pick up a frog-shaped lawn ornament while gardening.
Glynn’s leg was repaired with surgery and the use of rods, according to her complaint. She and her husband, who sued in September 2011, appeared in court on April 9 with their children. She has never had osteoporosis and was prescribed the drug to address low bone-mass density, Pennock during the trial.