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Patient Quits Fosamax: Are Doctors in Denial?

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Omaha, NEBev was prescribed Fosamax as a preventive measure for osteoporosis. Little did she know that rather than prevent and treat certain types of bone loss, Fosamax actually contributes to bone loss and jaw osteonecrosis, also known as “dead jaw.”

Bev, age 65, took Fosamax for five years until she saw a Fosamax attorney ad on TV talking about Fosamax side effects, and Fosamax femur fractures in particular. “Last March I was walking to my car in a parking lot and my legs just went out from under me,” says Bev. “I landed on my side and couldn’t move; I cried out for help, worried that I was going to get run over because someone driving their car wouldn’t see me. A good Samaritan took me to the hospital: I had fractured my femur in five places.

“Nobody, not my doctor nor the surgeons could understand why it happened. I have a follow-up exam next week and I am going to ask my doctor - he prescribed the drug - about Fosamax again. I already told him I quit taking Fosamax but there was no comment.”

Last year Bev had two root canals and had to take antibiotics for about six weeks. Both Bev and her dentist thought it odd because she never had any previous dental problems except for a few cavities. Now that Bev is aware of Fosamax and its link to osteonecrosis of the jaw, she can’t help but think that her recent root canals have something to do with Fosamax. “And I am worried about this dead jaw so I’m going to get x-rays of my entire jaw bone next time I see my dentist,” she says.

“I wish I would have known about Fosamax contributing to bone loss. I thought I was doing something to help myself because my mother suffered terribly from osteoporosis and I didn’t want to wind up like her. My mother also suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, which I don’t have. Years ago she was prescribed prednisone, which fed into the osteoporosis, according to my doctor. Fast forward and now we are getting fed Fosamax.”

Bev says she doesn’t know how much of a part Fosamax has played in her osteoporosis. Her friends tell her that she walks with a limp now, but she recently had two knee replacements. She is still working part-time as a teacher but it takes her a long time to get from one class to another and is very tired at the end of the day. “I really can’t do anything except water aerobics,” she says. “I can’t walk anywhere without a cane so it is taking a toll on the rest of my body. I can’t even take my two dogs for a walk without my kids helping.

“I have an appointment with an osteoporosis research doctor in a few weeks and I am also going to ask him about Fosamax. You trust these drug companies because your doctor trusts that they make the right product. Now I want to quit everything.”

Bev is also going to discuss with her prescribing doctor studies showing that femur fractures typically occur after taking Fosamax or another type of bisphosphonate for more than five years. Merck, the manufacturer of Fosamax, conducted clinical trials in postmenopausal women that were only of two or three years’ duration. Other clinical studies were three and four years in duration, at the most. Bev was on Fosamax for five years before she took herself off it. No wonder her doctor doesn’t want to discuss it.

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