Ironically – the Osteoporosis drug Fosamax causes Femur Fractures

Doctors have been prescribing Fosamax for years to prevent bone loss. And last year, for the first time, the FDA required manufacturers of bisphosphonates, including Fosamax, to warn about the fact these drugs can cause a serious bone fracture. Ironically, the drug causes the very indication that the drug was supposed to prevent. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen drugs cause the very problems that they were prescribed to protect against. We had seen this before with antidepressant drugs that were supposed to prevent suicide but actually caused it.
The FDA’s action was apparently prompted by a study of more than 300 women who had suffered leg fractures while taking these drugs. And earlier this year, the FDA mandated that manufacturers of bisphosphonates include language in their labels stating that the optimal duration for patient use has not yet been determined.

Doctors have been prescribing Fosamax for years to prevent bone loss. And last year, for the first time, the FDA required manufacturers of bisphosphonates, including Fosamax, to warn about the fact these drugs can cause a serious bone fracture. Ironically, the drug causes the very indication that the drug was supposed to prevent. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen drugs cause the very problems that they were prescribed to protect against. We had seen this before with antidepressant drugs that were supposed to prevent suicide but actually caused it.
The FDA’s action was apparently prompted by a study of more than 300 women who had suffered leg fractures while taking these drugs. And earlier this year, the FDA mandated that manufacturers of bisphosphonates include language in their labels stating that the optimal duration for patient use has not yet been determined.

It has not yet been determined? Perhaps the FDA should first decide how long a drug should be used for and then approve it.

Over the past year, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed alleging that the osteoporosis drug Fosamax caused femur fractures. These lawsuits have been consolidated in New Jersey federal court. Fosamax lawsuits claiming the drug caused osteonecrosis of the jaw have been consolidated for several years in a federal court in New York.

Bisphosphonates are sold under the names Actonel, Aredia, Bonefos, Boniva, Fosamax, Didronel, Reclast, Skelid and Zometa. Most people are familiar with these drugs as osteoporosis treatments for postmenopausal women; however, they are also approved for a variety of other indications, including other bone diseases such as Paget’s disease.

It was in October 2010 that the FDA warned about the risk of two rare types of thigh fractures associated with drugs like Fosamax. These fractures are very uncommon and possibly account for less than 1% of all hip and femur fractures overall. Although it is not clear if bisphosphonates are the cause, the FDA said in its alert that these unusual femur fractures have been predominantly reported in patients taking bisphosphonates. According to the FDA, these atypical fractures may be related to long-term term use of these drugs.

So we now believe that these drugs cause rare leg fractures and jaw death, but we’re not exactly sure how long we should ingest them. And we’re not exactly sure how long the risk remains after we stop taking these drugs. Doctors and patients alike really need to weigh what the true the benefits of these drugs are against the very real and serious risks of taking them.