WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court justices on Monday appeared sympathetic to Merck & Co in its bid to fend off hundreds of lawsuits accusing the company of failing to adequately warn patients of the risks of thigh bone fractures associated with its osteoporosis drug Fosamax.
The justices heard arguments in Merck’s appeal of a lower court ruling that revived the lawsuits filed in federal court by patients who said they suffered debilitating bone breaks after taking the drug.
Some conservative justices as well as liberal Justice Stephen Breyer emphasized that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had been uncertain about the fracture risk and rejected Merck’s proposal to add a warning label to the medication.
The nine-justice court, which has a 5-4 conservative majority, must decide whether a pharmaceutical company can be held liable under such circumstances.
Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham