Drug’s Dangerous Side-Effects Ignored For the Sake of Profits

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A female who had been battling breast cancer for more than eight years was administered a 'bone strengthening' medication after she showed a decrease in bone density – a common side effect of breast cancer. After first being prescribed one drug, she was switched to a drug named Zometa, which she was told was more effective in fighting her condition, and for almost two years, she was given regular doses of Zometa. During this time, she began to experience open sores on her gums that would not heal, and her jaw began to splinter, resulting in random pieces of loose bone floating within her gums. This painful condition caused her jaw and face to become disfigured, and she lost 22 of her 26 teeth. Neither her treating dentists nor her oncologist could determine the source of her problems. In the last two years of her life, she underwent numerous and painful dental procedures to treat her condition. Shortly after her death, evidence came to light that Executives at Novartis International, the manufacturers of Zometa, were aware of the potential side effects that their product could cause. Not long before the breast cancer patient began her Zometa rounds, a prestigious dental society meeting in New York City was presented with case studies, which pointed out clear links between exposure to the drug and injuries similar to the ones the patient had experienced. Oral surgeons contacted Novartis about these potential problems, but were reassured. E-mails recovered from Novartis records indicated a pattern of stalling and misinformation in response. It was revealed at trial that, at the direction of the company's top executives, senior risk managers of Novartis undertook a campaign of obfuscation with the members of the dental society and with the Food and Drug Administration. After three days of deliberations, the jury awarded a verdict of 12.6 million dollars in favor of the patient's widower. The case is currently on appeal to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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