Does Fosamax Cause Bone Loss?
Fosamax is a drug used to treat osteoporosis and other diseases that lead to bone loss. It is part of a class of drugs called bisphosphonates, which boost bone density and slow the progression of bone loss. Despite the benefits of the drug, some users have experienced the opposite effects and believe their Fosamax use caused them to suffer bone injuries.
Many users of Fosamax have suffered fractures of the femur and hip bones. Some also developed osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), which is the death of the jawbone. This follows an open wound in the mouth that becomes infected and the jawbone is exposed from beneath the skin. As it progresses, small fractures lead to the eventual collapse of the jawbone.
In one Fosamax lawsuit, the plaintiff had to undergo five major surgeries to repair the damage. Doctors used bone from her left arm to repair the broken jawbone. Despite using a drug intended to strengthen her bones and prevent bone loss, she was forced to undergo risky medical procedures to repair the damage Fosamax caused.
FDA and Fosamax
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has known since 2004 that Fosamax is linked to osteonecrosis of the jaw. In 2008, the agency released a warning that all bisphosphonates can lead to severe joint, bone, and muscle pain. Just two years later in 2010, the agency required the maker of Fosamax, Merck, to add a label to the drug warning of the increased risk for femur fractures. The company now faces thousands of lawsuits related to bone breakages caused by Fosamax.
In addition to FDA warnings and requirements, Merck has already paid claims filed by Fosamax users. Though no class action exists, in 2010, a female Fosamax user was awarded $1.5 million after her original $8 million award was overturned.
In 2013, Merck had to pay $285,000 to a woman who suffered bone disease following Fosamax use. She claims to have suffered delayed healing following a routine tooth extraction. The jury believed Merck should have provided a stronger warning so the woman’s doctors better understood the risks of her using the drug in the time before and after the dental procedure. The jury did not go as far as calling Fosamax a defective drug, in spite of the financial award.
Fosamax Lawsuits Pending in Court
At the moment, there are more than 4000 federal and state Fosamax lawsuits pending against Merck. Federal claims have been combined into multi-district litigation (MDL). This means they are group together during the pre-trial phase to make the discovery process easier.
In the US District Court in the Southern District of New York alone there were more than 900 cases pending as of February 2013. New Jersey’s US District Court was waiting on another 842 cases. Courts are in the process of hearing bellweather cases. When a large number of lawsuits are pending, bellweather cases are the first to be heard and serve as a predictor of outcomes so the courts and lawyers know how to proceed.
For instance, if there are large awards given to plaintiffs in bellweather cases, it increases the odds the defendant will begin to offer settlements outside of court to save time and money, and to avoid publicity. This can also help plaintiffs get the money they need to pay for medical bills, lost wages, and other costs associated with their injuries sooner.
If you or a loved one used Fosamax and suffered any time of side effects, especially broken bones or ONJ, you might be entitled to an award. It’s important you speak to a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as you can to learn more about your options.