|By Nate Raymond and Jessica Dye|
NEW YORK Dec 9 (Reuters) - Merck & Co Inc said on Monday that it was prepared to pay $27.7 million to settle lawsuits by hundreds of people who sued the company over allegations that its osteoporosis drug Fosamax caused bones in the jaw to deteriorate.
Lawyers for Merck and plaintiffs disclosed the proposed settlement at a court hearing in New York to resolve 1,140 lawsuits pending in federal and state courts. Any settlement would need to be approved by a judge.
Merck, which confirmed the agreement later on Monday, said the accord requires a 100 percent participation rate and evidence that the claimants satisfy eligibility requirements. The deal covers about 1,200 people, the company said.
"We hope to bring this to a successful conclusion," Paul Strain, a lawyer for Merck, said at the hearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan before Judge John Keenan, who has presided over federal litigation by plaintiffs claiming that they developed osteonecrosis of the jaw from taking Fosamax.
The condition is a disease that causes bones in the jaw to deteriorate or die.
The settlement would resolve a large portion of the 5,255 product liability cases facing Merck over Fosamax, a one-time blockbuster drug with $3 billion in sales in 2007.
Sales have declined since Fosamax lost patent protection in 2008. Through September, Merck had reported $421 million in Fosamax sales in 2013.
Of the lawsuits over Fosamax, about 860 of the cases were before...