Fosamax (alendronate sodium) is a prescription medication used for treating bone disease and bone loss in adults. It is most commonly used for preventing and treating osteoporosis caused by post menopause and glucocorticoids, Paget’s bone disease and increased bone mass seen in men suffering from osteoporosis.
Fosamax belongs to a class of drugs known as bisphosphonates and is intended to increase the strength of bone to prevent fractures. However, use of the drug for periods of five years or more has been linked to spontaneous fractures, especially in the femur.
There are several situations in which it is not recommended that you take Fosamax, or that you are closely monitored while doing so.
Patients with the following conditions should not take Fosamax or should speak with their doctors before taking it:
- Patients with existing esophageal conditions or issues
- Those who are unable to sit or stand in an upright position for a minimum of 30 minutes
- Patients who currently have low calcium levels in the blood
- Anyone who is allergic to the ingredients in the drug
- Patients planning on having dental surgery or removal of teeth
- Those with existing kidney problems
- Patients diagnosed with malabsorption syndrome
- Patients who currently take aspirin, antacids or NSAID medications
The use of Fosamax has been linked to several common side effects that occur in many patients who take the drug:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Joint, muscle or bone pain
Fosamax use is linked to a condition called hypocalcemia, which occurs when there are low calcium levels in the blood. The condition can often go unnoticed due to a lack of symptoms, but some may experience:
- Cramping, spasms or twitching in the muscles
- Tingling and numbness in the toes, fingers or mouth
If left untreated, this condition can result in seizures, kidney failure, nervous system problems and irregular heartbeat.
Fosamax use is linked to problems with the esophagus. Some patients may experience inflammation or irritation as well as esophageal ulcers that bleed. Patients who take the drug are urged to contact their doctors immediately if new or increased heartburn occurs, they experience pain when swallowing or are unable to swallow or if chest pains occur.
Another condition linked to the use of Fosamax is osteonecrosis, which is a condition in which blood supply is cut off to the jawbones. When this occurs, the bone begins to die, causing the jaw to collapse. In some cases, osteonecrosis leads to disfigurement and often requires surgery to remove the affected bones. This condition is frequently seen in patients who are taking Fosamax and have dental surgery or teeth extractions.
Unusual Fractures in the Thigh Bones
Those who have taken Fosamax for five years or more have an increased risk of fractures in the femur or thigh bones. These fractures have occurred without warning and strenuous activity – some people taking the drug have even reported fractures occurring while walking.
While Fosamax was originally intended for those already suffering from osteoporosis, which is a weakening of or decreased density of the bones, it also gained popularity for use in those with osteopenia, which is a slight thinning that occurs in the bones. This additional use led to many using the medication for well over the five-year timeframe when more serious complications begin to occur.
The FDA has also issued several warnings concerning the use of Fosamax, leading to several warnings being required on the label.
If you or someone you know suffered from fractures, jaw death or other conditions after taking Fosamax, you should contact an attorney to see if compensation is available in your case.