Fosamax (alendronate sodium) is a bisphosphonate that is used for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis, primarily in postmenopausal women. Bisphosphonates are a class of drug that prevents the loss of bone mass. Fosamax has also been prescribed for bone cancer patients and other bone related diseases. Fosamax was approved in 1995 and quickly became popular and prescribed often.
While the drug’s primary purpose is to strengthen bones, several patients have unfortunately discovered that it actually made their bones brittle, and more susceptible to bone breakage. Fosamax side effects can include bone fractures, inflammation of bone marrow (osteomyelitis), and osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ or “dead jaw disease”). Merck, the company that manufactures Fosamax has already set aside millions of dollars to compensate plaintiffs in a class actions suit surrounding jaw bone problems. Despite the overwhelming evidence of negative side effects, Merck continues to manufacture and distribute Fosamax, and now faces new litigation for femur fractures.
In 2008, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (the FDA), warned that the prolonged usage of bisphosphonates, such as Fosamax, may lead to rare femur (thighbone) fractures, especially for patients who have been using the medication regularly for four years or more. Women throughout the United States have suffered these painful fractures after very limited or “low-impact” activities, such as getting up from a seated position or stepping from a curbside. These injuries can be debilitating, and often effect seniors, since the elderly tend to be the population where osteoporosis is most prevalent.
Almost two years after the FDA’s warning, Merck began including femur fractures in the drug’s list of possible side effects. However, the FDA determined that this was an unsatisfactory remedy and in 2010 a series of clinical tests and studies were conducted. The findings of these studies, including those published in Journal of Orthopedic Trauma and American Society of Bone and Mineral Research, have provided the foundation for lawsuits across the country.