Fosamax is a prescription drug used to treat and prevent osteoporosis in adults. It was first introduced to the U.S. market in 1995 by the drug manufacturer Merck. Fosamax is specifically used to treat patients who have an increased risk of osteoporosis and a severe bone loss disease called Paget’s disease of bone. Those who suffer bone loss from osteoporosis or steroid use are ideal candidates for Fosamax.
Fosamax users have experienced severe side effects, including esophageal cancer, osteonecrosis of the jaw, and unusual bone fractures. It is also alleged that thousands of patients taking Fosamax do not actually face serious bone conditions, but are encouraged to use the drug as a preventative treatment. This is believed to contribute to unnecessary harm for a number of patients.
What Is Fosamax?
Fosamax (alendronate sodium) is a member of a medicine group called bisphosphonates. These drugs work to alter the cycle through which bone is formed and broken down within the body. Fosamax is made to slow a patient’s bone loss while simultaneously increasing the bone mass. This is believed to help prevent fractures.
Fosamax can be taken in a liquid or pill form. Depending on the specific treatment regimen of a patient, it can be taken weekly or daily. Fosamax has certain restrictions for use. Patients must stand or sit upright for at least 30 minutes after taking Fosamax. If the patient does not remain upright, serious complications in the esophagus or stomach can occur. Additionally, it should be taken in the morning at least 30 minutes before the patient eats breakfast or drinks anything other than plain water.
Fosamax Side Effects
Side effects of Fosamax can range from moderate to severe. Patients taking Fosamax commonly experience stomach pains and irritation of the gastrointestinal lining. Patients may also experience joint, muscle, and bone pains.
Fosamax is known to interact with certain medications. Those who take aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen may experience stomach irritation. Iron and magnesium supplements have been known to prevent Fosamax absorption into the body. Additionally, antacids can make Fosamax less effective.
Surprisingly, a side effect of Fosamax is increased bone fractures. Many of these fractures have been discovered to be low-energy fractures, or stress fractures. This means that they occur due to a repetitive low-impact force on the bones. However, several reports have indicated that patients have experienced fractures from random activities like turning the wrong way or riding in a car that stops abruptly.
Osteonecrosis of the Jaw
Osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) is also referred to as Dead Jaw Syndrome. It is a severe jawbone disease that causes the jawbone to die. The initial stage of the disease involves the jawbone being exposed. Minor trauma or dental work can cause a lesion in the soft tissue in the mouth that lies over the jawbone. Then, the area develops an infection. The soft tissue begins to erode, and the jawbone no longer receives blood flow. In extreme cases, tiny breaks in the jaw can lead to the collapse of the entire bone.
Once 2004 research proved the link between Fosamax and osteonecrosis of the jaw, lawsuits against Merck began. Lawsuits cover side effects such as bone fractures, esophagus issues, musculoskeletal pain, and osteonecrosis of the jaw. Plaintiffs are seeking compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and suffering endured from Fosamax side effects.
Fosamax patients have filed thousands of federal claims. These claims are grouped into a multi-district litigation (MDL). MDLs take place when several federal lawsuits across multiple districts are consolidated during the pre-trial phase of the lawsuit. Currently, Fosamax MDL cases are assigned to U.S. District Courts in New Jersey and New York. After the pre-trial phase is complete, the cases will be returned to their original districts.