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Judge Denies Bid to Overturn Verdict Against Novartis Executives

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US District Court Judge James Beaty has denied a motion to overturn a jury verdict that drugmaker Novartis failed to adequately warn consumers and physicians about the increased risks of severe jawbone damage associated with the bone-strengthening drugs Zometa and Aredia.

Novartis had filed the bid to overturn a verdict nearly one year ago in which the jury awarded $12.6 million to Rita Fussman who suffered jawbone damage while she was dying of breast cancer in 2009. The jury also awarded $287,000 in compensatory damages. The final award was reduced under North Carolina law to approximately $1.3 million.

In his ruling, Judge Beaty wrote that “…the willful and wanton conduct alleged in this case involved intentional deception and suppression of medical evidence by Novartis employees in investigating side effects and communicating with medical professionals.”

“…based on the evidence presented, the court concludes that sufficient evidence was presented to support a finding by the jury, by clear and convincing evidence, that Novartis managers intentionally concealed the risk of ONJ (osteonecrosis of the jaw) and attempted to subvert the medical inquiry regarding the risks of ONJ, all with the knowledge and approval of high-ranking officials within the company. In addition, the evidence would support the conclusion that Novartis managers took this course of action for purely financial reasons, in order to protect its marketing of bisphosphonate drugs.”

“Indeed, the evidence presented at trial against Novartis on this issue was of such sufficient strength that during closing arguments, counsel for Novartis felt compelled to concede that there was ‘bad news’ for Novartis because documents admitted during trial showed that Novartis managers had, in the words of defense counsel, engaged in ‘improper’ thinking, were ‘less than perfect,’ and had raised ideas of doing things that ‘probably should not have been thought about’ to prevent publication of or obscure medical evidence regarding risks of ONJ with Aredia and Zometa.”

“In addition, there was sufficient evidence presented to support the jury’s conclusion that this intentional deception and suppression of medical evidence by Novartis was related to Mrs. Fussman’s jaw injuries, because the evidence was sufficient to support the finding that the actions by Novartis were undertaken as part of an effort to keep doctors and other medical professionals from learning of the ONJ risks, and it was this lack of adequate warning and information that the jury had already determined was the proximate cause of Mrs. Fussman’s injuries,” Pharmalot reported. disclaimer: This article: Judge Denies Bid to Overturn Verdict Against Novartis Executives was posted on Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 at 6:04 pm at and is filed under Defective Drug Lawsuits.

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