The first Fosamax case has been filed against Merck & Co. in Canada. The drug maker, which is defending about 27,000 lawsuits filed by users of the painkiller Vioxx, was accused in the Canadian lawsuit of failing to warn consumers that its drug Fosamax may damage jaw bones. The lawsuit, filed in Ontario Superior Court, seeks class action status on behalf of the drug’s users. Merck will be required to explain to Canadian consumers what it knew about the risks associated with Fosamax. If the situation is like it is in the United States, Canadians weren’t adequately warned of the risks.
As we have previously reported, a number of lawsuits have been filed against Merck in courts in the United States over the risks associated with Fosamax. Complaints were filed in federal courts in states including New York, Florida, and Tennessee. At least 19 lawsuits were transferred for consolidation last year to a judge in New York. Fosamax was approved for sale in Canada in 1995 to help treat osteoporosis. As reported, use of the drug has been linked to an increased risk of developing osteonecrosis, also known as “jaw death.”
Fiona Peters, the lead plaintiff in Canada, took the drug between October 2001 and August 2004 and was diagnosed with osteonecrosis of the jaw last year, according to the complaint. It’s alleged that Ms. Peters “had no prior issues with bone loss, or bone degradation” and that she “suffered from extreme physical pain resulting from the breakdown of her lower jaw bone and will require further treatment and surgeries.” The plaintiffs in the class are seeking damages, including medical costs, for each person who was prescribed Fosamax. They will also seek punitive damages. It’s too early to determine how many Canadians may be involved in the suit.
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