Novartis's Zometa Linked To Incurable Jaw Disorder: 550 Lawsuits Pending

Novartis Pharmaceutical's bone strengthening bisphosphonate drug, Zometa (zoledronic acid), has been linked to the incurable and painful condition known as osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), a degenerative jaw disorder commonly referred to as “jaw death.” The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has warned dentists that bisphosphonate drugs may increase the chances of developing ONJ.

What is Zometa?

Manufactured by Swiss drug company, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Zometa is a treatment to reduce and delay bone complications due to multiple myeloma and bone metastases from solid tumors and is used with anti-cancer medicines. Zometa is administered intravenously once a month to cancer patients and is also prescribed to some patients for osteoporosis with a once-a-year dose. It is the only intravenous bisphosphonate approved for treatment of bone metastases and skeletal events related to multiple types of tumors.

Approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2001, the manufacturer now faces over 550 product liability lawsuits as the drug has been linked to osteonecrosis. Some Zometa lawsuits have been consolidated into an MDL (multidistrict litigation) in Tennessee and others are pending in New Jersey state court. While the first of those lawsuits isn't scheduled to go to trial until March 2010, a separate Montana trial going on now may determine how the others are resolved.

First Zometa liability trial

According to news reports, Montana resident Peggy Stevens suffers from lymphoma and was being treated with Zometa. However, during that time, she developed osteonecrosis of the jaw and has suffered severe jaw-related injuries since starting on the medication. She filed a product liability lawsuit against Novartis alleging that the company knew about Zometa's dangerous side effects, but failed to disclose that information or warn consumers about potential injuries. Unfortunately, Zometa isn't the only drug causing these injuries.

Bisphosphonate manufacturers

The following manufacturers are also defending bisphosphonate lawsuits:

  • Actonel - manufactured by Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi Pharmaceuticals.
  • Boniva - manufactured by Roche and GlaxoSmithKline and made popular due to its celebrity endorser, Sally Field
  • Didronel - manufactured by Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals
  • Fosamax - manufactured by Merck & Company.
  • Reclast - manufactured by Novartis Pharmaceuticals
  • Skelid - manufactured by Sanofi Pharmaceuticals

If you've developed ONJ from a bisphosphonate drug taken orally or intravenously, contact an experienced drug litigation lawyer to discuss your situation. You may be entitled to damages such as lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills and future medical care.