Woman claims cancer fighting drug damaged jaw

By Ann Knef | Sep 25, 2006

Carolyn Rutz is suing Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. in St. Clair County Circuit Court claiming a cancer fighting drug she used damaged her jaw.

According to the suit filed Sept. 19, Rutz was prescribed Zometa by Guillermo Rodriguez, Jr., a Belleville oncologist, on June 7, 2002. Zometa is prescribed for patients with advanced malignancies involving bone.

Rutz, represented by Thomas Q. Keefe of Belleville, underwent six dental surgeries between Sept. 18, 2003, and June 14, 2006, with alveoloplasty.

Alveoloplasty is a surgical procedure in which the bone
(alveolus) is smoothed in preparation for a removable denture.

Rutz claims Zometa was in a defective and unreasonably dangerous condition because it contributed to her developing osteonecrosis of the jaw -- a condition in which part of the bone is no longer alive and cannot regenerate itself due to a lack of blood supply.

She also claims the drug contained inadequate instructions concerning the side effects of the medication.

"Plaintiff's injuries are permanent, permanently painful, disabling and disfiguring, and plaintiff has incurred and became liable for large sums of money in medical and related expenses, and will become liable for additional sums in the future, and has been prevented from attending to her usual affairs and duties all to her damage in a substantial amount," the complaint states.

Rutz is seeking in excess of $75,000 in damages.

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