Merck’s Fosamax is an oral bisphosphonate, and is prescribed to prevent or treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. The prior problem prompting the FDA requiring Merck to make stronger warnings related to Fosamax’s causing death and decay of the jaw bones. The current problem requiring FDA intervention for stronger warnings relates the drug’s causing atypical subtrochanteric femur fractures fractures in the bone just below the hip joint.
These atypical femur fractures can occur anywhere in the femur, from just below the hip to above the knee. The fractures can be completely through the femur bone or just hairline fractures, and may occur in both legs at the same time. Many patients report pain in the affected area, usually presenting as dull, aching thigh pain, weeks to months before a complete fracture occurs. While atypical fractures are very uncommon, the incidence is increased with long term exposure to Merck’s bisphosphonate Fosamax.
The truly disturbing thing about this very dangerous drug is that it was FDA approved, advertised and marketed to prevent bone weakening and breakage by slowing or inhibiting the loss of bone mass. Known as Osteoporosis, this bone weakening disease causes very weak bones that break easily. Women are five times more likely to get osteoporosis than men. Physicians know that osteoporosis is a natural part of the aging process and that there is no way to stop or cure osteoporosis. Physicians know that their patients can slow down this process by taking enough calcium, vitamin D, exercising, not smoking and limiting alcohol intake to no more than one glass per day.
Merck, however, convinced the FDA that it had made a drug that prevented this natural part of the aging process. Slow the natural aging process of loss of bone mass? Amazing discovery if true! It was too good to be true. Merck’s Fosamax actually made the femur brittle and more susceptible to hairline fractures and breaks than the natural aging process itself.
The question regarding serious injuries from dangerous drugs like Fosamax is always the same: What did Merck know about the risk of these serious femur fracture injuries from Fosamax and how long has Merck known it? This answer to this question comes only through litigation.