Bisphosphonates, a class of drugs used to prevent broken and deteriorating bones in cancer and osteoporosis patients, have been linked to a serious side effect called osteonecrosis, in which areas of bone in the jaw die.
However, while small, but increasing, numbers of complaints seem to be popping up, along with rising numbers of lawsuits aimed at the drugs' makers, many unanswered questions remain.
One major question is just how many people are suffering from osteonecrosis of the jaw related to bisphosphonates. There are two varieties of the drugs, one taken intravenously by cancer patients (Zometa and Aredia), the other taken in lower-dose pill form by those with osteoporosis (Fosamax, Actonel and Boniva).
Incidence of osteonecrosis among cancer patients is estimated at between 1 percent and 10 percent, while incidence among osteoporosis patients is unknown.
Doctors and Dentists Puzzled
Patients want to know whether they should stop taking the drugs, and whether osteonecrosis is treatable, but doctors and dentists don't have the answers. There is virtually no firm data available, and studies to provide answers are just beginning.
Invasive dental procedures, such as tooth extractions, may spur osteonecrosis, so some dentists have stopped treating patients taking the drugs. As for treatments, the best solution seems to be antibiotic rinses, but many people with the condition have not gotten better.
All bisphosphonate drug labels must include the link to osteonecrosis of the jaw. However, the drugs remain in bones for years, so no one knows how long the risk of osteonecrosis remains, even if the drug is no longer being taken.
I warned you about the dangers of this class of drugs eight years ago. Apparently the mega-drug companies are getting pretty concerned as patients flock to oral surgeons and dentists for answers to this awful side effect, and firm answers are close to nonexistent.
Merck is the manufacturer of Fosamax, and it may actually suffer more damages from the lawsuits being filed on Fosamax than it will on Vioxx. The Fosamax suits claim it is a dangerous product because it can cause osteonecrosis, a condition that causes your jaw bone to rot and decay.
Fosamax's existing labeling provides no adequate warning of the drug's side effects. Why? It's a member of the nitrogenous biophosphonate family of drugs used for chemotherapy that have been associated with osteonecrosis. By the way, the newer drug, Boniva, is in the same class of drugs as Fosamax, and isn't all that different.
With Vioxx, Merck can get away with a lot of hogwash and say many things can cause heart attacks, not just Vioxx. But, with Fosamax, osteonecrosis of the jawbone is not caused by smoking or eating French fries.
Oral surgeons and many dentists started noticing this link five years ago. Last month, the American Association of Endodontists issued a position statement recommending that dental surgeons should check whether patients are on Fosamax and if so to look for this condition. This has become so common that dentists are now referring to this condition as fossy jaw.
In addition to this rotting jaw bone problem, Fosamax has also been associated with serious eye problems.
Merck grosses $3 BILLION a year from this deceptive scam. Don't be fooled into believing that Fosamax, or any drug, is the solution to improving your bone density.
Review the links below for some practical alternatives on improving your bone density naturally.