Oral Osteoporosis Drug Side Effects

Oral osteoporosis drugs such as Fosamax have been shown to possibly lead to ONJ, femur fractures, and esophageal cancer.  If you have experienced these side effects while taking an oral osteoporosis drug, contact an attorney at once.

Oral osteoporosis drugs like Fosamax have become the subject of significant scrutiny in recent years, as numerous side effect studies and FDA warnings have suggested that oral osteoporosis drugs may be linked to the development of major side effects in patients. Oral osteoporosis drugs, or bisphosphonates, are a class of pharmaceutical drugs used to prevent bone loss in patients with osteoporosis or other bone diseases. Bone undergoes constant turnover and is kept in balance by osteoblasts creating bone and osteoclasts destroying bone. Oral osteoporosis drugs are prescribed to patients with osteoporosis in attempt to slow bone loss by reducing the activity of osteoclasts, subsequently minimizing the digestion of bone. One of the most commonly prescribed oral osteoporosis drug is Fosamax, which entered the U.S. market in 1995 and is currently manufactured by Merck & Co. Despite the popularity of Fosamax and other oral osteoporosis drugs, serious doubts have been raised about the safety of these medications, due to the results of side effect studies. If you took an oral osteoporosis drug and have since suffered one or more severe side effects, contact an oral osteoporosis drug attorney to discuss your options for legal recourse.

Types of Oral Osteoporosis Drugs

The oral osteoporosis drugs affected by the recent FDA warnings are only those which have been approved to treat osteoporosis. According to the FDA, the oral osteoporosis drugs that may lead to the development of these severe side effects include:

  • Fosamax (alendronate)
  • Fosamax plus D (alendronate sodium/cholecalciferol)
  • Atelvia (risedronate sodium)
  • Actonel (risedronate sodium)
  • Actonel with Calcium (risedronate sodium/calcium carbonate)
  • Reclast (zoledronic acid)
  • Boniva (ibandronate sodium)

Not included in these warnings are bisphosphonate drugs that are only used to treat Paget's disease or high blood calcium levels due to cancer, like Zometa, Didronel, Skelid, and their generic products.

Oral Osteoporosis Drug Side Effects

An emerging body of research has identified the use of oral osteoporosis drugs as a potential risk factor for the development of serious and even life-threatening side effects. Among these potential oral osteoporosis drug side effects are:

  • Esophageal cancer – An extremely serious side effect, characterized by a malignant tumor in the esophagus.
  • Osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) – A devastating bone disease is which large portions of the jaw bone become damaged and eventually die, sometimes requiring removal of the bone.
  • Atypical femur fractures – Very painful fractures in the upper part or long part of the thigh bone, caused by the severe breakdown of bone.
  • Severe musculoskeletal pain – Debilitating pain caused by damage to the ligaments, joints, bone, muscles, nerves or tendons.

Despite the risk of these serious side effects, oral osteoporosis drugs are the most common drug therapy for the prevention of fractures associated with osteoporosis, and are prescribed to millions of people around the world. Unfortunately, some patients may not be aware of the risk they are exposing themselves to by taking certain oral osteoporosis drugs.

FDA Warnings for Oral Osteoporosis Drug Side Effects

In 2006, a study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, in which researchers established a potential connection between oral osteoporosis drugs and the development of ONJ. According to the report, nearly 400 individuals developed ONJ after taking Fosamax or a similar oral osteoporosis drug. In 2008, the FDA issued a warning to patients and physicians regarding the potential link between oral osteoporosis drugs, and severe and sometimes incapacitating musculoskeletal pain. According to the FDA, musculoskeletal pain associated with oral osteoporosis drugs may occur within days, weeks or months after beginning use of the drug.

In 2010, the FDA issued a safety announcement warning the public about the risk of atypical femur fractures in patients taking oral osteoporosis drugs like Fosamax. The FDA reviewed a 2008 study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research in which researchers observed more than 300 cases of atypical femur fractures. According to the study, more than 90% of these patients had taken oral osteoporosis drugs for five years of more, and 25% of them suffered fractures in both legs. In July 2011, the FDA released a drug safety communication regarding the potential increased risk of esophageal cancer in patients taking oral osteoporosis drugs. Before issuing this warning, the FDA reviewed two epidemiological studies using a U.K. patient database. Although one study found no increase in esophageal cancer risk, the other found a doubled risk of esophageal cancer in patients who had ten or more prescriptions of oral osteoporosis drugs, or who had taken the drugs over three years.

Oral Osteoporosis Drug Attorneys for Side Effects

The side effects allegedly associated with oral osteoporosis drugs are extremely dangerous and can lead to debilitating and even permanent injury. If you or a loved one has suffered from a side effect which you believe to be linked to an oral osteoporosis drug, contact an oral osteoporosis drug attorney to discuss your legal options. You may have grounds to file an oral osteoporosis drug lawsuit against the drug manufacturing company, in order to seek financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. You are not at fault for any serious side effects of dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. Drug companies like Merck are responsible for the safety of their medications, and should be held accountable for any serious side effects sustained by consumers of their products. By hiring an experienced oral osteoporosis drug lawyer, you can ensure that your rights are protected, and you can hold the allegedly negligent drug company liable for your injuries.

Prescription Drugs in The News