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Fosamax, manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., Inc., is a drug that is prescribed for the treatment of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by the loss of bone density over time. Fosamax is also prescribed for Paget’s disease, a chronic condition that can result in enlarged and abnormally shaped bones. Fosamax is in the class of drugs known as bisphosphonates. The generic form of Fosamax is known as alendronate.

Fosamax can cause a number of potentially serious side-effects, including:

  • Femur Fractures
  • Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ), a condition also known as Dead Jaw or Bisphossy Jaw
  • Osteomyelitis, a condition characterized by inflamation of the Bone Marrow

Suthers & Harper is investigating cases involving individuals who have suffered serious injuries, including femur fractures, or death after having taken Fosamax or alendronate. If you or someone you know took Fosamax or alendronate, experienced any of the above conditions and would like to discuss a potential lawsuit against the drug’s manufacturer, contact us online or call us on our toll free number, 1.800.320.2384, to set up a FREE consultation.

Fosamax and Femur Fractures

According to recent news reports and medical studies, women who have taken Fosamax for approximately five years are at risk of suffering spontaneous femur fractures. These fractures are termed “spontaneous” because typically, they are not trauma related. There have been reports of people, who were walking, walking down stairs or steps, or doing low-impact exercises who have suffered spontaneous femur fractures. These femur fractures are particularly troubling to doctors because the femur is considered one of the strongest bones in the body.

On March 8, 2010, ABC News reported on the increased femur fractures occurring in patients who had taken Fosamax for five years or more. One of the victims, age 59, was jumping rope with some children when she felt her thigh bone snap. She had been diagnosed with osteoporosis at age 48, and had been taking Fosamax for eight years before fracturing her femur. Another victim, age 60, had been on Fosamax for ten years before she broke both femur bones. To watch the ABC News report, click here.

The New England Journal of Medicine has reported that women who had taken Fosamax for long time periods had experienced an unusually high rate of femur fractures. The Journal also reported that the fractures all had a signature pattern that was horizontal and they all occurred as a result of falls from a standing height or less.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert on January 7, 2008, highlighting “the possibility of severe and sometimes incapacitating bone, joint, and/or muscle (musculoskeletal) pain in patients taking bisphosphonates.” Fosamax was specifically listed among the bisphosphonates that were the subject of the FDA alert. On October 13, 2010, the FDA issued another alert regarding a warning label change for Fosamax. The warning was revised by adding a specific warning about the risk of atypical subtrochanteric femur fractures, which are fractures in the bone below the hip joint, and diaphyseal femur fractures, which are fractures in the long part of the thigh bone.

More recently, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in its February 23, 2011 edition, published a study that concluded that the use of bisphosphonates, like Fosamax, nearly triples the risk of drug-related femur fractures in individuals who have taken the drug for more than five years.

Fosamax and ONJ

Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ) is a painful and disabling condition that occurs when a facial bone, such as the jaw bone, begins to starve from a temporary or permanent lack of blood flow. The bone begins to deteriorate and die, which is why ONJ is also referred to as “Dead Jaw.” ONJ develops when the jaw does not heal after minor trauma, such as extraction of a tooth or dental surgery that exposes the jaw bone. However, cases of ONJ have also been reported in the absence of dental work. In recent years, state dental associations have begun advising dentists to not perform invasive procedures, such as drilling a cavity or extracting a tooth, on patients who are taking Fosamax. The primary concern is that once ONJ begins and the patient experiences symptoms, the condition is difficult to treat and it is irreversible.

Common symptoms of ONJ can include:

  • Loose Teeth
  • Significant Gum Loss
  • Exposed Jaw Bone
  • Jaw or Gum Pain, Swelling or Infection
  • Jaw Numbness or Loss of Sensation

Suthers & Harper is currently reviewing potential cases involving individuals who have taken Fosamax or its generic form, alendronate, and suffered from serious adverse side-effects. If you or someone you know has experienced any of the foregoing problems, contact us online or call us on our toll free number, 1.800.320.2384, to set up a FREE consultation.

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