Trial Begins In Lawsuit Against Novartis

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) -- A trial is under way in a Missoula woman's lawsuit against the Swiss drug maker Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., and attorneys say the verdict could have national significance.

Peggy L. Stevens sued Novartis last year, contending the company was professionally negligent when it failed to disclose health risks associated with the bone-strengthening medication Zometa. Stevens, who has lymphoma, developed a degenerative jaw disorder after taking the drug.

Novartis faces Zometa-related lawsuits from about 550 plaintiffs nationwide. Many of the cases have been consolidated in a Tennessee federal court and New Jersey state court.

Linda Morris of Anchorage, Alaska, is a plaintiff in the consolidated case. She says her attorney attended parts of the Missoula trial last week because the verdict could set precedent for the other cases nationwide.

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