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Osteonecrosis And Fosamax

jaw

If you’ve been reading up on the side effects of osteoporosis medications, you have undoubtedly heard about osteonecrosis of the jaw, and osteonecrosis and Fosamax in particular. In fact, some law suits are underway against the makers of Fosamax (Merck) due to this horrible side effect.

Osteocrenosis and Fosamax have an unpleasant but inescapable link. First observed in connection with the drug around 2003, osteonecrosis of the jaw is not merely a bothersome side effect. It’s really gruesome and can result in disfigurement of the jaw and face. The jaw bone begins to die and the flesh begins to decay away from the area, exposing the bone to more infection. It’s extremely difficult to treat, and may involve removing segments of the jaw itself.

How does Fosamax do this? First, let’s take a look at how osteonecrosis happens.

No Blood, No Bone

Generally speaking, osteonecrosis of the jaw (and any other bone or joint) results from an inadequate blood supply to the area. The loss of blood to the bone means that the usual remodeling can’t take place; blood carries the osteoblasts and osteoclasts to your bones and joints. Various causal factors can come into play to cut off the blood supply to a particular bone or area of bone, from illness to injury to medication.

Enter Fosamax, a bisphosphonate that is intended to increase bone density and decrease the symptoms of osteoporosis. It has a long list of side effects already, and it looks like yet another one can be added. A study conducted at the University of Washington indicated that Fosamax may cause circulatory problems, specifically atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) leading to stroke.

Could it be that this affect Fosamax has on circulation could be a contributing factor to Fosamax and osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ)? Stroke results when circulation is cut off to the brain, usually due to a blood clot (fibrillation can result in blood clots). The upper jaw is certainly near the brain – could there be a connection? It’s worth considering.

While the fibrillation-stroke-ONJ connection has not been firmly established, the connection between Fosamax and cases of ONJ is far more solid. A University of Southern California School of Dentistry study concluded that 4% of its dental patients who were taking Fosamax developed osteonecrosis of the jaw. Before you think that 4% is no big deal, remember that premarketing trials showed that Fosamax reduces the risk of hip fracture from 2% to 1%. And they call this success!

Low Turnover Rate

Fosamax lowers the bone turnover rate by suppressing remodeling. Here is the key to the connection between Fosamax and osteonecrosis of the jaw: bone remodeling is essential to bone health, and suppressing that remodeling adversely affects the health of the bone. This artificial process may force bone density, but at what price? If an osteoporosis patient who is taking Fosamax goes in to the dentist for a tooth extraction or denture fitting, he or she will experience some trauma to the teeth and jaw area. Normally, blood flow brings healing nutrients and bone-building cells to the traumatized area, speeding healing and replacing any injured or unhealthy bone. But in patients taking Fosamax, this basic body healing system is awry. If the traumatized jaw bone cannot heal itself via remodeling, it begins to die.

It’s just not worth it to take Fosamax or any bisphosphonate, especially when there is a viable, all-natural alternative that doesn’t have horrible side effects. With the Save Our Bones program, you won’t have to worry about any negative effects to your jaw bone or any other bone. The connection between Fosamax and osteonecrosis of the jaw will be severed if you simply refuse to turn to drugs and seek natural methods of healing. Save Our Bones is absolutely effective, and you don’t have to risk anything to do it, much less such a horrific side effect.

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5 comments. Leave Yours Now →

  1. Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D. April 22, 2014, 2:44 pm

    Risk versus benefit… but to properly weigh the two, the doctor and patient need reliable and accurate information!

    The prescription drug Fosamax (the generic is alendronate sodium) is a medication which has been prescribed to hundreds of thousands of postmenopausal women to treat osteoporosis and help increase bone mass thereby reducing the chance of spinal or non-spinal fractures. Fosamax has also been prescribed to increase bone mass in men with osteoporosis. Brand name Fosamax is manufactured in the United States by Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc. In about 2008-2009, Fosamax became widely available in its generic form (alendronate sodium).

    Side effects of Fosamax may include the following:
    1. Esophagus problems including irritation, inflammation, or ulcers
    2. Low blood calcium levels (hypocalcemia) which may lead to muscle spasms, twitches, or cramps as well as numbness or tingling in the face, fingers, toes, and around the mouth
    3. Severe jaw bone problems (osteonecrosis of the jaw often abbreviated as “ONJ”)
    4. Bone, joint, or muscle pain
    5. Unusual femur (thigh bone) fractures

    ABC News ran a story on May 10, 2012 about the dangers of “bone drugs” stating, “In a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration raised concerns about the potential for some serious side effects in women taking bone-building drugs called bisphosphonates, specifically Fosamax, Actonel and Reclast. The published findings are not new. In 2011, the agency voiced concerns that taking the drugs long-term may actually make bones weaker and increase the risk of rare but serious side effects such as atypical fractures of the thigh bone, esophageal cancer and osteonecrosis of the jaw, a rare but painful condition in which the jaw bone crumbles. To investigate, the FDA reviewed data from women who had taken the drugs for six to 10 years.” Underscoring just how commonly these medications are prescribed, ABC News commented, “According to the FDA, doctors wrote more than 150 million prescriptions for bisphosphonates between 2005 and 2009.”

    At the end of 2013, Merck settled with about 1,200 plaintiffs alleging that Fosamax caused them to suffer osteonecrosis of the jaw (“ONJ”). ONJ is a rare condition in which the patient suffers degeneration and deterioration of the jaw and often necessitates surgical repair with bone grafting. This recent settlement requires a total of about $27.7 million to be paid by Merck. Before anyone feels bad for Merck, he or she should also know that some researchers estimate that Merck “earned” about $3 billion (with a “b”) in 2007 from Fosamax. There are still many unsettled suits.

    While alendronate sodium does have some appropriate indications, there are serious side effects which can occur. Most of the lawsuits focus on one of two harms – femur fractures or osteonecrosis of the jaw. Each is treated differently by many of the lawyers handling these cases. If someone has taken brand name Fosamax and suffered either of these harms, he or she should immediately consult with his or her physician and then consult with an attorney who is experienced in handling such a matter.

    - Paul

    Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.
    Attorney at Law, Physician

  2. oan April 4, 2013, 10:48 am

    Has anyone had muscle and joint pains after second year of receiving Reclast? How long did they last? I won’t be having anymore osteoporosis “drugs”.

  3. Annabelle March 7, 2013, 5:11 am

    So sorry to read of your broken bones Loni. Have had broken pelvis bone and vertebrae in two separate accidents and necrosis of the shoulder which has been successfully replaced. Keep your chin up! I am lucky not to suffer much pain. Was also on Fosamax for about seven years. Have felt much better after keeping on Vivienne’s diet and exercising regularly. It is the best solution

  4. Loni Gregson March 4, 2013, 3:26 pm

    I believe with all my heart that all my (shattered bone) surgeries for the eight and one half years has been because my primary care physicial
    started me on actonel and then fosamax since I was about 52 years old.
    I am now 67 and have had shattered bones, and I mean ‘shattered’ – -
    now, I may have broken some along the way but not to the tune of:
    43 pins and four plates !!!!!!!!!!! I’ve been in the hospital
    with everything, the last one being in October 2012, because my knee
    was so bad they did a knee replacement in 2011 – - then ‘infection’
    got in my artifical knee. I’ll tell you what: I’m 67 and look and
    act like I’m 167 ! (Broken hip at 59, shattered tibia, shattered wrist, shattered femur, I would rather be dead than live like this !)

    I SO WISH I COULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT ALL THE HOSPITAL BILLS, BUT THERE
    IS NOTHING I CAN DO ! IT MAKES ME SO MAD, BECAUSE I WAS IN REALLY
    GOOD HEALTH UNTIL I STARTED ON THE FOSAMAX !

  5. Catherine McGeachy August 30, 2012, 11:18 am

    I’d like to be ableFacebook page go automatically on to your site and learn more. So, would you consider putting a ‘share’ button beneath each article so that they can be shared on Facebook? Thank You! Your work is wonderful!

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