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Fosamax and Femur Fractures

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Fort Lee, NJIn a recent Running & FitNews article, an athlete said she suffered several stress fractures in her tibia. She can’t understand how this could happen and neither can a number of specialists. She is also taking Fosamax to help prevent osteoporosis, a drug that may cause femur fractures, along with other bone injuries.

The 40-year-old woman says she is running out of ideas. She has seen an orthopedic surgeon, a podiatrist, a physical therapist, a sports medicine doctor and two chiropractors. She has been running competitively for six years and has a heavy training schedule. She has done everything possible to address these femur problems:

“I run on a rubberized track once a week; I run on a treadmill once a week; I run on trails once a week; I take Fosamax, isoflavones and hydro-calcium supplements; I have had orthotics; I wear arch supports; after no impact exercise for six weeks, I had pain immediately while trying to run on grass.”

She also had two bone scans that revealed “some bone thinning” in her back. Given the number of specialists this woman has seen, it is surprising that she doesn’t know about Fosamax side effects and subsequent Fosamax lawsuits.

As of December 2013, more than 4,000 Fosamax femur fracture lawsuits had been filed in both state and federal courts. Although settlement talks claiming Fosamax caused femur fractures were stalled after Merck won five out of seven bellwether osteonecrosis trials, Fosamax femur lawsuits are going forward.

The law firm Parker Waichman LLP reported last month that three core discovery deadlines in the Fosamax litigation have been extended based on a Case Management Order (CMO). The CMOs extended the following deadlines:

• Tier II Femur Fracture Discovery Pool: Extended to December 30, 2014
• Tier III Femur Fracture Discovery Pool: Extended to December 30, 2014
• Tier IV Femur Fracture Discovery Pool: Extended to February 27, 2015

These Fosamax lawsuits, which were filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, have been designated a mass tort. (In re: Fosamax Litigation, Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division: Atlantic County, Case No. 282 - L3632-08.)

All plaintiffs in the lawsuits allege that they suffered severe mental and physical pain and suffering, among other claims, as a result of taking Fosamax (alendronate sodium).

Fosamax is a bisphosphonate drug that has been approved by the FDA to treat bone-weakening diseases such as osteoporosis and Paget’s disease. Since bisphosphonates accumulate in bone tissue and suppress bone turnover, there is concern that it affects bone strength. The use of bisphosphonates can cause the bones to become brittle despite the increase seen in bone mineral density.

People, particularly women, taking Fosamax long-term should take into account the risks involved. A number of studies have linked bisphosphonates, specifically Fosamax, to femur fractures if the drug has been taken for about four to eight years. Two studies (Injury, Feb 2008 and The Journal of Orthopedic Trauma, May 2008), which were presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, found that long-term users of Fosamax were found to be at significantly higher incidence of fractures.

While the above mentioned woman thinks she is doing everything right by seeing a number of health care professionals, trying to cross train and running on easier surfaces, she doesn’t mention how long she has been taking Fosamax…

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