Fosamax, also known as alendronic acid or alendronate sodium, was originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1995 to treat the deterioration of bones caused by osteoporosis and other bone diseases. Fosamax is believed to work by altering the cycle of bone formation and breakdown in the body. The drug is supposed to slow the activity of cells which break down the bone while also increasing bone mass, potentially making bones stronger and decreasing the frequency of abnormal fractures. However, recent studies have shown a potential for the drug to cause major side effects in consumers.
People who suffer from bone diseases like osteoporosis have taken Fosamax under the assumption that the drug would effectively treat their condition and relieve their bone pain. However, since 2001, a number of individuals have suffered from Fosamax-related bone, joint and and muscle problems so debilitating that they were left temporarily or permanently crippled. In 2004, a study was published in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery which suggested that a connection existed between the use of the drug Fosamax and the development of osteonecrosis of the jaw, a painful condition which causes the death of jawbone tissue. Soon after the study was published, the FDA released a Fosamax warning regarding the connection between the drug and this disease, also known as ONJ. Two years later, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine confirmed the connection between ONJ and Fosamax by examining the cases of nearly 400 individuals who developed the condition after taking Fosamax or a similar drug.
Osteonecrosis of the jaw is a severe bone condition which results in the damage and death of areas of the jaw bone. Individuals suffering from ONJ typically experience pain and swelling of the gums or jaw, gum loss, loose teeth and exposed bone showing through missing gum tissue, among other symptoms. Many ONJ victims require the removal of a large portion of the jaw bone, sometimes even leaving them unable to chew solid foods. Other major side effects of Fosamax include abnormal femur fractures, and extreme musculoskeletal pain caused by damage to the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments tendons or nerves.
Approximately ten million people have taken Fosamax in the United States alone. According to a 2010 task force convened by the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research which reviewed 310 cases of “atypical femur fracture,” 94% of the patients had taken a bisphosphonate drug like Fosamax. Fosamax has the potential to inhibit bone turnover, which can lead to permanent bone decay, disfiguring bone conditions and increased fractures. Credible studies have brought attention to the dangerous side effects associated with Fosamax, and Merck, the manufacturers of Fosamax, have been accused of intentionally misleading the public about the harmful nature of the drug, as well as waiting too long after discovering the potential dangers of the drug before taking necessary action. Although drug manufacturing companies are required to put their drugs through extensive tests before deeming them safe, many manufacturers conceal the dangers of the drug in order to expedite the FDA approval process. This leaves consumers unknowingly at risk of severe harm. When drug manufacturers fail to consider the safety of potential consumers, countless individuals pay the price.
A number of potential Fosamax lawsuits are being evaluated. Last year, Merck lost its first Fosamax case, awarding $8 million to an individual who suffers from osteonecrosis of the jaw believed to be linked to her use of Fosamax. In 2008, a study was performed at Cornell University Medical School which determined that Fosamax users are 125 times more likely to suffer from femur fractures than individuals who have not taken Fosamax. Despite these dangers, Fosamax remains on the market today.
Victims of Fosamax injuries are not at fault. It is the responsibility of drug manufacturing companies to accurately publicize the potential dangers of their drugs, in order to protect the safety of consumers, and they should also be held accountable for the injuries sustained by individuals who take their medications. If you or a loved one has suffered from ONJ, abnormal femur fractures or severe musculoskeletal pain as a result of taking Fosamax, contact a Fosamax attorney for legal guidance. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and a Fosamax lawyer can help you file a Fosamax lawsuit.