Thousands of women around the world are filing Fosamax lawsuits against Merck, manufacturer of the bone-loss drug that has been associated with a myriad of severe side effects like Fosamax femur fractures and osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). But in 1999, the company only saw profit in Fosamax. Their annual report forecasted that 40 million women would take the drug. Fosamax would bring in $3 billion a year despite its adverse effects.

Fosamax is a bisphosphonate drug used to treat osteoporosis and other bone diseases. Merck also marketed the drug to treat osteopenia, a mild form of osteoporosis where bone density is lower than normal. The company created a Bone Measurement Institute and encouraged women to get bone scans. There were 750 bone scan machines in doctor’s offices before Fosamax. By 1999, there were 10,000.

A recent study showing the slow progression of bone loss in osteoporosis raises questions about whether many of the women who took Fosamax needed to at all. The study found that bone loss develops so slowly that a woman with normal bone density at 65 could wait 15 years before undergoing a second bone density test. During the 15 year period, only 10 percent of the women studied developed osteoporosis. Doctors might have overestimated the progression of osteoporosis and over prescribed bisphosphonates like Fosamax.

Fosamax underwent only a six month review before receiving FDA approval in 1995. The review didn’t uncover any of the side effects that patients soon began to report. For instance, dentists discovered that the jawbone tissue of patients taking bisphosphonates would not heal, and become necrotic and die. “Even short-term oral use of [Fosamax] led to ONJ in a subset of patients,” one dental journal reported. According to an FDA epidemiologist, there were 23 incidences of Fosamax related esophageal cancer in the U.S., and eights deaths. In Europe and Japan, there were 27 incidences of cancer and six deaths.

Bisphosphonates were also linked the risk of developing atrial fibrillation—irregular heartbeat and severe bone, joint or muscle pain. “In the most serious cases, the pain was so severe that patients could not continue their normal activities,” the FDA stated in a press release.

Perhaps most alarming were the reports of Fosamax femur fractures. Patients taking Fosamax would experience femur fractures during low impact activities. Thigh bones of patients on bisphosphonates have “simply snapped while they were walking or standing,” after “weeks or months of unexplained aching,” according to the New York Times.

Patients who suffered Fosamax femur fractures and other Fosamax side effects are now filing lawsuits to seek compensation for their expenses and injuries. Over 2,000 Fosamax lawsuits are currently underway around the country. To learn more about filing a Fosamax lawsuit, call (877) 779-1414.

Published November 5, 2012 by