So far, 2009 has been troubling for Fosamax and pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck & Co. Fosamax is a very popular drug used to treat osteoporosis and other bone diseases. However, new studies have claimed a link between the drug and osteonecrosis of the jaw, a very serious medical condition sometimes known as dead jaw. Some patients have already talked to their doctors about discontinuing their use of this drug, while on the other hand, many medical professionals are writing off the claims as unfounded. Right now, the only thing certain in the medical community is that more studies are needed. Until that happens, patients may pay the price.
First, it is important to look at the studies that have already been done. Fosamax is no stranger to researchers, as claims in the past had linked it to atrial fibrillation, a conditional that causes irregular heartbeat and leads to fatigue and fainting. Later studies showed that these claims were unfounded, and that Fosamax still safe to use. A recent study has also linked the drug to esophageal tumors, a dangerous form of cancer. Like with the claims that Fosamax causes osteonecrosis of the jaw, the medical community needs more studies before a link to cancer can be validated. For now, all we know is that some patients who have developed esophageal tumors were also taking Fosamax and certain patients with underlying throat problems may be at risk.
The link between Fosamax and osteonecrosis of the jaw comes from a study reported by the American Dental Association. After seeing increased numbers of osteonecrosis patients, one dentist from the University of Southern California decided to research possible connections. This study concluded that there is at least a 4% increased risk among Fosamax patients for developing osteonecrosis of the jaw. In addition, new studies also suggest that osteonecrosis in other parts of the body may also be a problem.
On the other hand, Merck's own clinical trials show this claim to be incorrect. They reportedly studied 17,000 patients over the course of ten years and found that none of them reported osteonecrosis of the jaw. With millions of people taking Fosamax, the number of patients reporting osteonecrosis of the jaw is, according to Merck, "negligible."
Yet, the potential for very serious problems shouldn't be taken lightly. To date, over 650 Fosamax lawsuits have been filed and patients are calling for a dead jaw class action suit to investigate Merck and their osteoporosis drug. Patients are reporting not just dead jaw, but also Fosamax femur fractures, another kind of Fosamax injury that could be extremely serious. Hip fractures, which often lead to the need for major surgery, have also been cited as a problem.
Until more Fosamax studies are done, we can't be sure what dangers can be attributed to this drug and what Fosamax risks are negligible, as Merck claims. In order to protect patients, third-party studies need to look at the drug over long periods of time and with high, unbiased and random groups of patients. For now, though, as a Fosamax patient, you should stay in touch with your doctor about new studies regarding this drug, and if you believe you've been hurt due to taking it, talk to a Fosamax injury lawyer as soon as possible.