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The first jury trial regarding the bone drug Fosamax, ended in a mistrial on Friday because the eight person jury could not reach a verdict. The federal trial in New York, involved a 71-year old retired law enforcement officer, who alleged that the death of her jawbone tissue was caused by using Fosamax from 1997-2006. Fosamax, made by Merck, has been used by millions of women to offset menopause-related bone loss. Medical experts, journal articles and internal Merck documents were used to try and prove that Merck knew or should have known that Fosamax can cause osteonecrosis or jawbone death. Merck argued that Fosamax does not cause osteonecrosis and that Mrs. Boles’ jaw problems were caused by other health problems. During deliberations, jurors sent the judge notes indicating that they were deadlocked on a verdict. One juror even reported being threatened for failing to agree on a verdict. The case was being closely watched by lawyers and the pharmaceutical industry as a bellweather for other Fosamax suits. According to Merck it faces about 900 Fosamax cases brought in federal and state courts nationwide, and it plans to try each case. Most of the cases have been consolidated before the NY federal judge in Mrs. Boles case. Despite the Fosamax mistrial, according to Mrs. Boles’ lawyers, the judge plans to retry her case, though Merck intends to seek dismissal.

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