Fosamax, or alendronate sodium, and Fosamax D (Fosamax with vitamin D) are types of oral bisphosphonates, a class of drugs used to prevent bone breakdown and increase bone density. Introduced to the market in September 1995 by the pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., Inc., Fosamax is approved for use in the prevention and treatment of bone diseases. Most often prescribed for postmenopausal women, men with osteoporosis, men and women who are on corticosteroids, cancer patients in jeopardy of bone fractures due to bone metastases, and those with Paget’s disease (osteitis deformans), Fosamax can maintain and increase bone density levels, but there are many serious side effects to ingesting this drug especially when taken for five or more years.
Long-term use of an oral bisphosphonates can cause nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and esophageal disorders. Patients taking Fosamax must be able to sit or stand for at least thirty minutes after taking or patients can develop mouth sores and esophageal problems.
Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ)
Osteonecrosis, or “Dead Jaw,” occurs when there is a loss of blood to the bone and tissue surrounding the jaw; the lack of blood to the bone causes the bone to starve and eventually die. When suffering from ONJ, patients may be asymptomatic until trauma, such as a tooth extraction, occurs, then ONJ sufferers may experience jaw pain, swelling, numbness, tooth loss in addition to gum infection and the slow healing of the mouth or jaw after injury or surgery. Once diagnosed, ONJ is difficult to treat.
One surprising side effect of taking Fosamax and other oral bisphosphonates drugs is the high occurrence of “atypical subtrochanteric femur fractures,” or fractures of the long thighbone without any specific trauma occurring. In 2008, Merck was approached with this potential risk, but the company did not respond for more than 16 months; finally, Merck quietly added “low energy femoral shaft subtrochaneric fractures” to its list of side effects. In September 2010, the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) concluded that long-term use of bisphosphonates drugs could lead to atypical femur fractures. In the standard population, atypical femur fractures account for less than 1% of all femur fractures, but an article in the October 2010 edition of The Journal of Bone and Mineral Research concluded that in a study of 310 femur breaks, 291, or 94%, of those with atypical femur fractures had used a bisphosphonates drugs for five or more years. Studies support claims that women taking Fosamax for less then five years have had positive results, but those taking Fosamax for more than five years are at an increased rate of spontaneous femur fractures with little or no warning.
Have You Been Affected by Fosamax?
Any individual or the relative of an individual who has suffered due to Fosamax’s side effects is permitted to file a lawsuit. The lawyers can help you determine whether you are qualified to seek compensation. You may be eligible to seek reimbursement for medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, and punitive damages (compensation granted for losses suffered).
Different states have different legislation regarding medical lawsuits, so it is essential to hire an experienced and effective lawyer who can file the case. If you need further information about the harmful side effects of Fosamax or legal advice concerning personal injury matters, we invite you to contact us or to fill out our form on this website for a free case evaluation.