Kelly Holleran Feb. 27, 2013, 12:19pm

Residents of two different states have filed complaints in St. Clair County Circuit Court against the makers of a drug used to treat osteoporosis, claiming the medicine caused them to develop bone fractures.

Loyce Marlene Parr of Alabama and Emily Wilson of Mississippi filed separate lawsuits Jan. 22 against Merck, Sharp and Dohme.

In their complaints, the plaintiffs allege they sustained long bone fractures, weakened or brittle bones, multiple stress fractures or low energy femoral fractures as a result of taking the drug Fosamax. The drug is considered a biphosphonate, which is used to treat bone conditions such as osteoporosis or Paget’s disease, according to the complaints.

However, the drugs hinder the development of patients’ bones rather than help the conditions, the suit states.

“Defendant knew or should have known that by inhibiting bone turnover while at the same time allowing the secondary mineralization of old bone to continue, long term Fosamax therapy would result in bones becoming highly mineralized, brittle and more susceptible to fracture,” the suit states. “This is especially true given the fact that the effects of Fosamax on the bone accumulate and continue for years after treatment is discontinued.”

When people stop taking Fosamax, the drug continues to affect their bones years later. In fact, according to one study, bone turnover was inhibited by 50 percent even five years after patients stopped taking the medication, the plaintiffs allege.

The defendant company, which manufactured the drug, knew of the dangerous effects of the medication, but hid its knowledge, according to the complaint. This may be because Fosamax was Merck’s top-selling drug, which averaged more than $3 billion per year before the generic version became available in 2008, the suit states.

In addition to their injuries, the plaintiffs say they experienced pain and mental anguish, sustained a diminished enjoyment of life and endured physical impairment and disfigurement, the complaint says. They also claim they incurred lost wages and a diminished earning capacity and incurred medical costs.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege defective design, failure to warn, negligence, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, fraudulent misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation against the defendants.

They are seeking a judgment of more than $350,000, plus costs, attorneys’ fees and other relief the court deems just.

John J. Driscoll of The Driscoll Firm in St. Louis will be representing them.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case numbers: 13-L-40 and 13-L-41.

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