Fosamax and other Bisphosphonates
Women throughout the country rely on medication to help prevent or treat bone loss or osteoporosis. These medications are called bisphosphonates, also know as Fosamax, Boniva, Didronel, Zometa, Actonel and Aredia.
Use of these medications have been linked to cases of severe jaw bone decay or osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ).
Although Fosamax was intended to prevent or treat bone loss, since 2001, it has been reported that more than 2,400 patients have reported jaw bone death. Most of these patients, cancer patients, were taking potent, intravenously delivered forms of the drugs.
Osteoporosis patients, on the other hand, usually take bisphosphonates as pills, in much lower doses. Those drugs, Fosamax, Actonel and Boniva, reduce the risk of fractures of the spine or hip. Reports state 120 people who were taking the drugs in pill form, suffered debilitating pain and have become bedridden or in need of walkers, crutches or wheelchairs.
What is ONJ – Osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) can occur when the jaw does not heal after minor surgery where the bone is exposed. ONJ can cause severe infections, swelling and loosening of the teeth. Often, the dying bone tissue must be treated with long-term antibiotic therapy or be removed during surgery. For those taking Fosamax or other bisphosphonates, many physicians recommend not having major dental work done, while on the medication.
Some warning signs are:
- Infection of the gums
- Loosening of the teeth
- Poor healing of the gums
- Numbness, or a feeling of heaviness in the jaw
- Exposed bone
Fosamax – Fosamax and other bisphosphonates are typically prescribed to women who are post-menopausal to prevent or treat osteoporosis. Cancer patients are also prescribed this medication, when the disease has spread to the bone. These medications were meant to make the bones thicker and less likely to break, however sometimes they do the opposite of their intended effect.
Fosamax is manufactured by Merck and has been linked to the serious bone disease ONJ. Since November 2005, the labeling of Fosamax has been changed to include information regarding serious side effects and health risks associated with the drug, which include ONJ.
Bisphosphonates – Cancer patients, mostly those with multiple myeloma and breast cancer whose disease has spread to their bones, generally take one of two bisphosphonates, Zometa or the older Aredia, intravenously. The drugs, doctors say, largely prevent excruciating bone pain and fragile bones that break like kindling. Cancer patients with bone weakening have little option but to take bisphosphonates. There are over 36 million women taking bisphosphonates to prevent or slow osteoporosis, which is a dramatic increase over recent years.
Lawsuits – Merck, which makes Fosamax, a bisphosphonate for osteoporosis, states 15 suits have been filed against them relating Fosamax use to ONJ. Novartis, which makes Zometa and Aredia for intravenous use, says it does not comment on litigation. Roche, which makes Boniva, used for osteoporosis, reports zero lawsuits filed. Two suits have been filed against Procter & Gamble, which makes Actonel, for osteoporosis, and Didronel, for Paget’s disease. All the companies say osteonecrosis never emerged in their clinical trials, involving tens of thousands of patients.
If you or loved one have been injured as a result of taking one of the above drugs, you may have a valid claim. Call Cellino & Barnes now at 1-(800) 888-8888 or contact us.