Zometa is a potent bisphosphonate used to prevent skeletal fractures in patients with cancers such as multiple myeloma and prostate cancer. Zometa can also be used to treat hypercalcemia of malignancy and can be helpful for treating pain from bone metastases.
Novartis Pharmaceuticals manufactures Zometa, which gained approval from the FDA in 2001. In addition to Zometa, many other bisphosphonates are available on the market including, Fosamax, Actonel, Aredia, and Boniva.
How Zometa Works
Zometa comes in a liquid serum which must be administered by injection. After being injected, Zometa works by reducing normal and abnormal bone loss, which helps to maintain bone strength. Zometa also helps to reduce blood calcium levels in situations where those levels are too high.
Zometa reduces the risk of bone complications such as bone fracture, hypercalcemia of malignancy, and spinal cord compression. In addition, Zometa helps restore the normal bone remodeling process, thus reducing the chance of bone complications and side effects. Even patients who have already had complications, such as bone fracture, radiation, or bone surgery, can be helped by treatment with Zometa. In these cases, Zometa may reduce the risk of additional complications.
Zometa Side Effects
Bisphosphonates, like Zometa, have been known to cause various serious side effects. These side effects are sometimes life-threatening. Generally, the severity of Zometa side effects depends on many factors, including each patient’s medical history and overall health. Some of the most serious Zometa side effects include:
- urinating less than usual or not at all
- muscle spasms, numb or tingly feeling (especially around your mouth)
- fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms
- pale skin, easy bruising, unusual weakness
- severe joint, bone, or muscle pain
In addition to the serious side effects listed above, Zometa has been linked to another serious side effect, jaw bone death, known as osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) or “jaw death.” Even though ONJ is a rare Zometa side effect, the side effect is extremely painful and cannot be reversed. Further, out of the estimated 3,000 total ONJ cases reported, the majority have been reported as a side effect of intravenous bisphosphonates like Zometa.
So far, several class action lawsuits have been filed against Novartis, Zometa’s maker, by patients who suffered an adverse side effect after taking the drug. Patients injured by Zometa side effects may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and other expenses related to Zometa side effects.
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