Another summary judgment for Novartis shortly before trial.



D. Or. -- United States District Court for the District of Oregon

Complex Litigation


On March 20, 2014, just weeks before this case was to be tried, the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon granted summary judgment in favor of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (“Novartis”) in the pharmaceutical products liability case, Parkinson v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., 3:12-cv-02089-BR (D. Or. March 20, 2014).  The district court held that plaintiff failed to prove proximate causation when there was no evidence that additional or different warnings would have changed the prescribing oncologist’s decision or the treatment by her dental providers.   

This case arose out of the Aredia®/Zometa® multidistrict litigation (“MDL”), in a case that was remanded to the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.  Carlie J. Odia, as represented by her estate, alleged that she developed osteonecrosis of the jaw (“ONJ”) as a result of her use of Aredia® and Zometa®, FDA-approved medications prescribed to prevent or significantly delay the deep bony pain, pathologic bone fractures, and spinal cord collapse that were complications of plaintiff’s metastatic breast cancer.  The district court recognized that the prescribing oncologist, Dr. Mark Seligman, was “well aware” of the risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw associated with Aredia® and Zometa® in 2005 when he prescribed the treatment for plaintiff.  Dr. Seligman, who continues to prescribe both medications today, found that the benefits of the drugs outweighed that risk to plaintiff.  Because “the relevant inquiry is not whether plaintiff would have taken Zometa, but whether Dr. Seligman would have prescribed Aredia and Zometa if he had received a different warning related to the possibility of ONJ,” the court granted summary judgment to Novartis on proximate causation. 

Additionally, the record demonstrated that Ms. Odia had two extractions while on Aredia® and Zometa®, but there was no alternative to performing these extractions, given the testimony of Ms. Odia's dentists.  Moreover, the plaintiff did not tell Dr. Seligman that she was undergoing recommended teeth extractions, nor did she tell her dental providers prior to the extractions that she had cancer, was taking Aredia® or Zometa®, or that she was under any other doctor’s care.  Therefore, plaintiff was further unable to prove that the allegedly inadequate warnings proximately caused her jaw injuries. 

The court also granted summary judgment on plaintiff’s breach of warranty claim because she failed to provide notice to Novartis.  Thus, the court granted summary judgment on all claims to Novartis.

Novartis has obtained dismissal or summary judgment in over 250 other cases originally in the Aredia®/Zometa® MDL.  Novartis has also secured complete defense verdicts in seven trials, and has received twenty-four appellate judgments in its favor in cases originally part of the consolidated litigation.

Novartis is represented in this matter by Donald W. Fowler and Gregory S. Chernack.