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In a move that should hearten the pharmaceutical industry, the U.S. Supreme Court appears interested in revisiting a contentious legal issue which has the potential to affect lawsuits filed by consumers.

Earlier this week, the court asked the U.S. solicitor general to offer an opinion on a case involving Merck (MRK), which is hoping to dispense hundreds of lawsuits filed more than seven years ago by women who claim they suffered bone fractures after taking Fosamax, a drug used to combat osteoporosis.


Last March, a federal appeals court overturned a lower court and decided the lawsuits should move forward. In reaching its decision, the appeals court determined federal law did not preempt state laws that allow consumers to sue a drug maker for failing to warn about the risk of a medicine.

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