Dan Thornburgh, a Florida attorney whose practice focuses in pharmaceutical and medical device litigation, recently sat down with us to explain what Fosamax is – and why it’s so dangerous.
What is Fosamax?
According to Thornburgh, “Fosamax falls into a class of drugs known as bisphosphonates which are used to treat chemotherapy for metastatic cancers such as bone and breast cancers. The drug has also been approved by the FDA for the treatment of non-cancerous conditions such as Osteoporosis. Merck is the manufacturer of one of the bisphosphonates, which is Fosamax.”
Why is Fosamax dangerous?
Fosamax has been linked to a number of serious side effects, according to Thornburgh. One of those side effects, or conditions, is known as Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ), which is a debilitating process that is extremely painful. He explained:
When bisphosphonates are used, they are absorbed into the body and bones. They’re used as a treatment to prevent bone loss. What happens is that there’s an imbalance of normal bone homeostasis. That’s a big issue because it leads to other conditions such as Osteonecrosis. My patients with Osteonecrosis are in a lot of pain and they go in for a normal dental procedure before they know that they have this condition. After the dental procedure, they realize that the Osteonecrosis has caused their jaw bone to die. So, Osteonecrosis is essentially death of the bone.
What happens is that there’s a compromise in the vascular supply to that affected area of the bone. So, you’re not getting the nutrients and the things that are necessary to keep that bone alive. When it dies, you are at an increased risk of suffering fracture. Some of the symptoms include teeth falling out, teeth dying, jaw death and infection. It’s extremely painful. You can imagine having an ulcer on your lip; that's painful enough, but when your jaw has died – it can be a life-altering injury.
While some people are able to eat if they have a minor condition, the problem in many of my cases is that the individuals affected by the Osteonecrosis have extreme injuries, are oftentimes unable to chew their food and have to drink food through a straw. It can be very dangerous and there’s not much treatment that can be done on these folks because, essentially, their jaw is dead.
Thornburgh told us:
Doctors doing normal dental procedures have to take extreme caution and oftentimes the condition is untreatable. If it is treatable, I’ve had some clients that have gone through complete jaw reconstructive surgery where bones from the femur or other areas of the body are harvested and pinned into the affected dead area of the jaw, but the success rate for those isn’t great.
Imagine the normal things that you and I are able to do with healthy jaws. These individuals are unable to smile without pain, unable to eat without pain, unable to brush their teeth without pain, unable to get dental procedures without pain and are at an increased risk of suffering serious fractures to the jaw. It’s terrible.
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