From strong as concrete to brittle as glass: how Fosamax destroys femur bones
On March 10, 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported the drug Fosamax may cause users to develop brittle bones. The FDA is currently investigating whether bisphosphonate medications (including Fosamax) increase the risk of a broken thigh bone. A healthy femur is the strongest bone in the human body – even stronger than concrete. Evidence has begun to suggest that Fosamax and other biphosphonate drugs cause “low-energy” femur fractures. Even stepping down stairs can be enough to shatter a brittle femur.
What you should know about Fosamax
Fosamax is used to treat several bone diseases, foremost osteoperosis, a disease prevalent among postmenopausal women. Its scientific name is alendronate sodium, and it is produced by the pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck & Co. Fosamax increases bone mass to reduce the risk of hip or spinal fracture. The FDA's specific inquiry is whether these medicines actually weaken the thigh bone, causing atypical subtrochanteric femur fractures.
Low-energy fractures: a relatively rare injury
In a 2008 letter to the New England Journal of Medicine Dr. Joseph M. Lane, M.D. identified “a unique radiographic pattern“ in the femoral shafts of 10 alendronate users who had suffered low-energy fractures. Dr. Lane's study “suggested a link between prolonged bisphosphonate therapy and atypical fractures” and questioned their safety. Moreover, 37% of the low-energy fractures group were long-term biphosphonate users, even though postmenopausal women represent just 6% of all osteoperostic hip fractures in the Lane study's patient population.
The FDA review has yet to establish a definite connection between bisphosphonates and brittle bones, but its findings are still underway. The report mentions four bisphosphonate products by name:
- Fosamax (alendronic acid)
- Actonel (risedronic acid)
- Boniva (ibandronic acid)
- Reclast (zoledronic acid)
Have brittle bones? Take action
If you take any of these medications and have suffered a femur fracture, you should take two urgent steps: first, contact your doctor to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment of brittle bones. You should not stop taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to stop.
Second, inquire with Weitz & Luxenberg regarding your injury. It is important to document and build your case from the earliest possible stage. Your pain and suffering need not go unanswered. The loss of productivity and quality of life caused by the condition of brittle bones may entitle you to compensation from Merck. Fill out the form on this page and a Weitz & Luxenberg representative will contact you shortly to discuss your circumstances.