Fosamax (Alendronate) is a bone building drug prescribed to treat and prevent osteoporosis. By preventing the loss of bone density, Fosamax should prevent fractures, but one of the dangerous side effects of the drug is bone fractures, including femur fracture. Fosamax can have other serious side effects including jawbone death.

Fosamax Fractures

Fosamax works by preventing breakdown of the bone, so that the bones do not lose their density. It is in a class of drugs called bisphosphonates.

Fosamax has been linked to an increase in broken bones and fractures, including fractures of the femur which is the strongest bone in the body. Fractures often occur during light, everyday activities, such as while walking or spontaneously while standing.

Fosamax fractures are more common with long-term use of the drug.

Although the cause has not been definitively determined, it is believed that Fosamax causes fractures because it slows down the body’s bone renewal process. Normally old bone material would be removed and replaced naturally by the body. Fosamax slows down the removal to prevent thinning of the bones. So, while the bones do not thin, the bone material is old and brittle and prone to fracture.

Jawbone Death

Fosamax and other bisphosphonates have been linked to osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). ONJ is death of the jawbone. It is painful, disfiguring, and can be disabling. People with ONJ often lose teeth, and sometimes must have part of their jawbone removed or shaved down.

ONJ is usually triggered by dental work. However, it is not prevented by simply going off Fosamax prior to dental procedures. The drug stays in your bones for about 10 years.

People with ONJ often experience the following:

  • Poor healing of the gums
  • Pain, swelling, and infection of the gums
  • Loosening of teeth
  • Drainage
  • Tooth loss
  • Pain or numbness of the face
  • Numbness or the feeling of heaviness in the jaw
  • Jaw pain
  • Jaw infection
  • Dramatic gum loss
  • Exposed bone

Throat Cancer

A common side effect of Fosamax is irritation, inflammation, and ulcers of the esophagus. Fosamax users are instructed to stand or sit upright for at least 30 minutes after taking the drug, and to take it with a full glass of water, to help avoid this problem.

In 2008, a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had received reports of 23 cases of esophageal cancer possibly linked to Fosamax use, between October 1995, and May, 2008.

A study published in the British Medical Journal, in 2010, found that the Fosamax use doubled the risk of developing throat cancer.

If you have developed dental problems, bone fractures, or throat cancer after taking Fosamax, please talk to a Fosamax injury attorney in your area to learn more. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.