Jawbone Death from Osteoporosis Drug Costs Novartis $1.3M
A Florida woman who took Zometa to prevent the risk of osteoporosis has won a $1.3 million jury award against drug maker Novartis for causing destruction of her jawbone.
Nancy Guenther was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. When her doctors discovered that the cancer had metastasized to her bones, they prescribed Zometa to reduce her risk of bone fractures. Guenther received 46 injections of the drug over four years between 2002 and 2006.
During that time, she claimed she developed a condition in which the jawbone dies, called biphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw.
Guenther is among the 400 cases consolidated in federal court against Novartis alleging jaw deterioration by the drugs Zometa and Aredia.
The jury in Florida federal court ordered Novartis to pay the 61-year-old Guenther $300,000 for her medical bills and $1 million for physical and emotional pain and anguish. Guenther had to have her jaw bone removed and replaced with a metal chain, according to her attorneys, John Beins, Ranchor Harris, and John Vecchione.
Jurors found that the drug company was negligent in failing to warn by not providing an adequate warning about the risks of Zometa.
“This is the second case in Florida this year Novartis lost, and the third across the country,” Vecchione said. “Mrs. Guenther lost her lower jaw to Zometa and the jury obviously believed it was because Novartis fell below the standard of care it owed to the users of its products.”
Novartis has already asked for a new trial on the grounds that the jury initially filled out a verdict form that had inconsistent findings. The jury went back to deliberating and revised its findings after the judge pointed out the inconsistencies.