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Drug verdict: Manufacturer knew adverse effects but kept quiet

When people in New Haven are prescribed a drug to treat an illness or lingering medical condition, they should expect that the medication does what it purports to do -- or at least does not introduce any problems that were not present before. In what could develop into a medical malpractice case for several plaintiffs, a drug company was recently found liable for not properly disclosing the risks associated with taking a popular prescription drug.

The drug, sold under the name Fosamax, is used to treat osteoporosis, a degenerative bone condition. However, many people who have taken Fosamax have reported such issues as delayed healing, bone infections in the jaw and issues with the femur bone in the leg.

In a case that was settled this week by a federal jury, the maker of Fosamax, Merck & Co., was ordered to pay more than a quarter of a million dollars to a woman who suffered from a bone infection after taking the drug. The jury found that Merck did not properly notify the woman's doctors of the risks she could encounter for taking the product. However, the jury declined to find that the drug should be considered a dangerous product.

So far in the case, the drug maker has been the one at fault for not notifying patients and their physicians about the possible risks. Now that the risks are fairly well understood, a patient who is prescribed the medication by a doctor but who is not properly warned could potentially make a case for medical malpractice or doctor error.

Source: Reuters, "Merck hit with $285,000 verdict in Fosamax trial," Nate Raymond, Feb. 5, 2013

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