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Why is Fosamax prescribed?

Fosamax is prescribed for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and to increase bone mass in men with osteoporosis. It is also prescribed for the treatment of glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis and to treat Paget’s disease.

Fosamax is manufactured by Merck and belongs to a class of drugs known as bisphosphonates. It is taken orally as a tablet or as a solution. The generic or common name for Fosamax is “alendronate”.

What are the complications associated with taking Fosamax?

Reports have linked Fosamax and other bisphosphonate medications to a rare but serious bone disorder known as osteonecrosis of the jaw, commonly referred to as ONJ or “Dead Jaw.” Osteonecrosis of the jaw is characterized by the loss or breakdown of the jawbone. According to the American Dental Association, symptoms of ONJ include but are not limited to:

  • pain, swelling, or infection of the gums or jaw;
  • gums that do not heal;
  • loose teeth;
  • numbness or a feeling of heaviness in the jaw;
  • drainage;
  • exposed bone.

In a safety review dated August 25th, 2004, the FDA reported that post-marketing data indicated that a continuing safety concern existed for oral and intravenous bisphosphonates. The FDA recommended that the language necessary to highlight the adverse event (osteonecrosis of the jaw) should be included in biphosphonate product labels. Merck did not include this safety information in the Fosamax label until July, 2005.

What should I do if I have experienced serious side effects associated with the use of Fosamax or another bisphosphonate?

If you or a loved one have taken Fosamax and have experienced any of the symptoms related to osteonecrosis of the jaw, you should contact your doctor immediately. Do not discontinue taking your medication without first consulting with you doctor.

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