Recently, a federal district court rejected an effort by big pharma, Novartis, to avoind the verdict in a suit for "jaw decay" caused by the drug, Zometa. The smart judge pointed to the evidence which indicated that employees of the drug manufacture engaged in dirty-tricks cover up of crucial evidence of the drug’s side effect on a person's jaw bones.
Novartis failed to warn the plaintiff and other consumers regarding the devastating side effect of Zometa, a side effect scientifcally referred to as osteonecrosis of the jaw or ONJ.
A jury in North Carolina had made an award to the plaintiff's estate for $13 million in both compensatory damages and additional punitive damages. The jury found that the big pharma corporation had intentionally concealed information about the unsafe use of the drug by patients.
Indeed, US District Judge James Beaty ruled that the jury heard “clear and convincing evidence” that Novartis intentionally schemed to cover up the lethal side effects of its drug. In addition, the drug maker attmepted to subvert proper medical and scientific inquiry about the drug's side effects. For example, the jury saw an internal company email from the marketing department which indicated Novartis suppressed a document detailing numerous cases linking Zometa to ONJ.
There are now many lawsuits over the drug and ONJ. Most are already consolidated with suits alleging ONJ caused by Aredia, also made by Novartis.
Unfortunately, Novartis will likely not change its behavior because so-called "tort reform" laws, in reality tort deformity passed by legislators beholden to special interests, means that the plaintiiff's award will be reduced by almost 90%.
Update December 9, 2011 - Apparently, Novartis exhibits a pattern of bad behavior:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is takingNovartis (NYSE:NVS) CEO Joseph Jimenez to task with a warning letter that cites three of the company’s manufacturing facilities for “significant violations” at the company’s generics drug unitSandoz.
The warning letter, sent to Jimenez on Nov. 18, outlines a long list of findings including insufficient written procedures to prevent microbiological contamination; inadequate procedures to assure that the drugs have the identity, strength, quality and purity they’re supposed to have; and a failure to find the cause of crystallization in an unnamed injectable product.