Fosamax and Osteonecrosis of the Jaw

Produced by Merck and generically known as alendronic acid, Fosamax is a biophosphonate medication first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1995 to treat osteoporosis, Paget’s disease, and other bone diseases. Fosamax slows bown loss and is effective at increasing bone mass and preventing fractures. In 2008, Barr Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceuticals received FDA approval to manufacture and market generic versions of Fosamax. Some of the generic names under which Fosamax may be sold include Boniva, Bonefos, Aredia, Reclast, Skelid, and Zometa.

Fosamax was designed to prevent bone damage, but it may also cause some severe bone-related disorders that can be irreversible and life threatening. One severe Fosamax side effect is osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), an intensely painful condition in which the jaw’s bone tissues fail to recover following minor damage. This failure to heal leaves the jaw bone exposed, which can ultimately result in severe infection or fracture of the jaw bone.

Studies have shown that patients who take higher doses of Fosamax or who have been taking the drug for more than five years have an increased risk of developing ONJ and other serious Fosamax side effects (such as femur fracture).

Symptoms of ONJ

Although a doctor can help patients weigh out the benefit and risks of Fosamax, a patient should take the time to make themselves familiar with the symptoms of osteonecrosis of the jaw so they know when to seek emergency medical care to prevent life-threatening complications. Symptoms of ONJ include:

  • exposure of the jaw bone
  • gum inflammation
  • loosening of the teeth
  • a sensation of heaviness or numbness in the jaw

Should a diagnosis confirm the presence of osteonecrosis of the jaw, doctors may prescribe antibiotics and, in some cases, invasive surgery to remove the diseased bone tissue. ONJ surgery can result in patients being unable to chew solid foods for the rest of their lives.

If you or a loved one has taken Fosamax and been diagnosed with ONJ, you are encouraged to learn more about your legal rights by attending a free initial consultation with a skilled products liability lawyer. Injured parties will have a viable legal claim against Merck, and they may be entitled to compensation for their medical bills, permanent disabilities, decreased quality of life, pain, and suffering.

If you or a loved one have used Fosamax and suffers from ONJ, you should contact us immediately for a free and confidential case review. You may be entitled to compensation and we can help.