North Carolina Dangerous Drug Lawsuit Involving Zometa and Aredia Results in $12.8M Verdict Against Novartis AG
A jury has awarded the family of Rita Fussman $12.8 million in their Winston-Salem, North Carolina dangerous drug lawsuit against Novartis AG. Fussman died of breast cancer in 2009. However, her family contends that prior to her passing she experienced more discomfort than she should have because the chemotherapy drugs Aredia and Zometa caused her to develop osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), which involves the decaying of the jaw bone.
After three days of deliberations, the Winston-Salem jury found that Novartis did not adequately warn Fussman about the risks associated with taking the drugs. Her family’s North Carolina products liability case is the third one involving Zometa and ONJ to go to trial. A $3.2 million jury verdict was awarded in one case last year. A second trial ended with a jury verdict.
Currently, there are about 600 to 700 dangerous drug lawsuits filed against Novartis over its bone strengthening medicines and the increased ONJ risk that they allegedly create. ONJ can lead to decay, may require jaw removal surgery, and can also cause the patient’s death. Although Novartis started warning doctors in 2005 that these drugs can cause bone damage, the Fussman family contends that the drug maker knew about the dangerous as far back as the 1980’s. Fussman started taking Zometa in 2001.
Out of the $12.8 million Winston-Salem dangerous drug award, $12.6 million is for punitive damages and $287,009 is for compensatory damages. However, because the state has a punitive damages cap, Novartis will pay the plaintiffs about $1.1 million.
Jury awards $12.8M in bone-drug lawsuit, Winston-Salem Journal, November 25, 2010
Novartis Hid Risks to Protect Sales, Lawyer Says, Bloomberg, November 19, 2010
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