Recently, the drug Fosamax has been under fire for potential links to osteonecrosis. This most commonly manifests itself as osteonecrosis of the jaw (dead jaw), but it can also affect other parts of the body, like the hips, legs, and shoulders. The media has been hard on the drug, calling for patients to talk to their doctors about changing their medications, but many medical professionals are advising patients to continue taking the drug. Do the benefits of Fosamax outweigh its risks?
Right now, the answer to that question depends on whom you ask. Critics of Fosamax and other bisphosphonate drugs have noted that there are over 650 Fosamax lawsuits currently waiting to be tried. One study, as reported by the American Dental Association, shows that there is a 4% increased risk of developing dead jaw when you use Fosamax. On the other hand, however, Merck's larger and more comprehensive study has shown that osteonecrosis is a negligible risk. Some have questioned, though, whether or not this study is valid, since the drug's manufacturer did the research.
So, the question remains: Should you discontinue your use of Fosamax? Before making that decision, start by talking to your doctors about the Fosamax risks and your personal health factors that could come into play. For example, if you have dental problems, you may be at a much higher risk for dead jawbone disease. Many of the patients reporting problems or filing Fosamax lawsuits developed the condition only after having teeth extracted for non-related reasons. If you already have certain problems, the Fosamax risks could be enough for your doctor to recommend that you stop using the drug.
At the same time, if you've already been using Fosamax and tolerate it well, most doctors agree that the benefits outweigh the risks at this point. Fosamax, when used over time, can cause dead jaw, and Fosamax femur fractures have been a major problem in some cases. Osteoporosis can also be extremely dangerous. When you have osteoporosis, your bones become extremely fragile, and fractures can happen even with just a bump or gentle fall. Most often, fractures happen in the hips, spine, and wrists, but no bone is safe. A broken bone isn't just a nuisance either. If you break your hip, you typically need major surgery to fix it, and even then, you may have problems walking for the rest of your life. With spinal fractures, the same is true, and patients generally have back pain and may have to deal with deformities.
So, if you don't have certain risk factors, even in the light of these new Fosamax reports, it could be in your best interest to continue taking the drug. If you don't take Fosamax, the other drugs that can help you are other bisphosphonate drugs, which have some of the same side effects in patients. Right now, Fosamax is a leader in bone disease care, and you shouldn't overlook it.
More studies need to be done in the medical community before Fosamax injury lawsuits can be settled and patients can make the best choice for their health. For women dealing with osteoporosis, though, Fosamax should not be discontinued unless a medical professional recommends it.