Zometa Lawsuit Awards ONJ Victim $3.2 Million

A Montana jury awarded $3.2 million to a woman who developed osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) after taking Novartis Pharmaceutical's bone strengthening bisphosphonate drug, Zometa (zoledronic acid). This is good news for the 550 plaintiffs whose Zometa lawsuits are pending in state and federal courts.

$3.2M Zometa Verdict

The $3.2 million Zometa verdict against Novartis Pharmaceutical was awarded to 57 year old Peggy Stevens of Missoula who suffers from lymphoma. Doctors treated her with Zometa, a bisphosphonate drug. However, she quickly developed ONJ – also known as jaw death – which occurs due to a compromise in the vascular supply to that affected area of the bone. Once that happens, patients are at an increased risk of having their teeth dying and falling out, their jaw dying and makes them more susceptible to infection. ONJ patients say that the disease is extremely painful and incurable.

She filed a product liability lawsuit against Novartis and her Zometa attorney was able to prove to a jury that the pharmaceutical giant knew about Zometa's dangerous side effects, but failed to warn consumers about potential injuries. The jury awarded her $3.2 million in damages – $822,000 for lost income and the remainder for her pain and suffering. The verdict is good news for the 550 other plaintiffs whose Zometa lawsuits are pending in state and federal courts – not to mention thousands of others who have been injured due to similar bisphosphonate drugs such as Merck & Co's Fosamax Proctor & Gamble's Actonel and Didronel, GlaxoSmithKline's Boniva, Sanofi Pharmaceutical's Skelid and Novartis Pharmaceutical's Reclast.

Other Zometa product liability lawsuits

The other 550 Zometa lawsuits are currently pending in New Jersey state court and in an MDL (multidistrict litigation) in a Tennessee federal court. The first of those cases is scheduled to go to trial in March 2010; however, Zometa lawyers say that now that a jury has found that Novartis was liable for Steven's injuries, it's likely that the drug maker may be more amenable to settling those lawsuits.