Quoted from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-19/novartis-hid-risks-to-protect-sales-lawyer-says-update1-.html
Novartis Hid Risks to Protect Sales, Lawyer SaysBy Jef Feeley and Jerry Adams - Nov 18, 2010 7:05 PM ET
Novartis AG officials hid the health risks of the drugmaker’s bone-strengthening medicines Aredia and Zometa to protect billions of dollars in sales, lawyers for a North Carolina woman said.
Executives of Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis ignored studies showing that some cancer patients taking Aredia and Zometa may suffer irreplaceable jawbone damage, Vernon Glenn, a lawyer for Rita Fussman’s family, told a federal court jury in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The drugs had $1.5 billion in sales in 2009.
Zometa and Aredia created a “giant money wheel” for Novartis, Glenn said in closing arguments of the trial of a lawsuit by Fussman’s family over damage done to her jaw. Novartis officials were prepared to do whatever it took to “keep the money wheel rolling,” the lawyer said.
The Fussman family’s lawsuit is the third product-liability case to go to trial over the bone-strengthening treatments. Last month, a New Jersey jury rejected a woman’s claims that Aredia and Zometa caused her jaw deterioration. In October 2009, a Montana jury ordered Novartis to pay $3.2 million in damages to a cancer patient who made the same claims over the medicines.
Bruce Berger, a Novartis lawyer, countered in his closing argument that the company provided adequate warnings about the risks the drugs posed to users. Fussman’s jaw problems were unrelated to her use of Zometa, he said. Fussman, who lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, died in 2009 of complications from breast cancer.