A lawsuit has been filed in federal court against pharmaceutical giant Merck on behalf of a Hawaii woman who allegedly suffered a severe thigh bone fracture after taking the osteoporosis drug Fosamax. The claim alleges that the woman’s fracture was the result of taking Fosamax for nearly a decade. The new Fosamax lawsuit is just the latest in some 40 similar cases pending against Merck in 14 districts across the nation.
Fosamax Femur Fracture Update 3/13/13: A new study has identified a causal link between Fosamax and nonhealing femur fractures. The research, which was published in last month’s edition of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, found that nonhealing femur fractures are not just associated with Fosamax and other diabetes drugs, but directly caused by them.
What’s the problem?
June 30, 2011 – Lisa Takamori, a 62-year old resident of Kailua, HI, filed the federal lawsuit yesterday, claiming her injury was the result of taking Merck’s best-selling osteoporosis drug Fosamax for eight years. According to the claim, the retired school teacher suffered the fracture after taking a slight step backwards in 2009. Since then, Takamori has had multiple surgeries to try to fix the injury.
“I took one step backward and felt excruciating pain,” Takamori said of the incident. “It’s a devastating breakage because it doesn’t heal. I have discomfort, can’t walk without a cane, so it’s very limiting.”
Since it was first approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1995, Fosamax (alendronate sodium) has been prescribed to millions of people around the country for the treatment of osteoporosis and Piagets disease. While most patients are given the drug for an extended period of time, mounting evidence suggests that long-term use of Fosamax may increase the risk of low-energy bone fractures, most commonly involving the thigh bone or femur.
According to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, nearly 1,500 Fosamax lawsuits have been filed against Merck to date for bone fractures, osteonecrosis of the jaw – also known as ‘dead jaw’ – and other injuries associated with long-term use of the drug. Despite these issues, Fosamax continues to be a top-selling drug for Merck, which showed sales of $208 million for the first quarter of 2011 alone.
In response to the new lawsuit, Merck spokesman Ronald Rogers said, “Nothing is more important to Merck than the safety of its medicines and the patients who use them. We stand behind the safety and efficacy profile of Fosamax, and we encourage patients who have any questions about their health to speak with their physician.”
Fosamax Bone Fractures
According to recent estimates, approximately 40 percent of postmenopausal women will experience a bone fracture at one time or another in their life. Side effects of an osteoporotic bone fracture include a greatly reduced quality of life and severely decreased mobility. Sadly, some fractures can even result in death. While Fosamax is intended to strengthen the bones and reduce the propensity of fractures, it seems the opposite may be true.
In 2008, a study published in the Journal of Orthopedic Trauma found a femur fracture pattern that was 98 percent specific to Fosamax users. The study involved 70 low-energy femur fractures that were caused by minor accidents, and identified a specific type of fracture that occurred almost exclusively in women who had taken Fosamax for a year or more. Then in 2009, a report published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research highlighted a femur fracture incident suffered by a women who had been taking Fosamax for eight years. The research found that the woman had an imbalance between bone absorption and formation at the site of the fracture, suggesting that the injury may have been caused by the long-term use of Fosamax.
Taking these studies into consideration, we believe Merck & Co. failed to adequately research Fosamax and warn the public about the potential side effects that have been associated with the drug. Doctors and patients are advised to weigh the risks vs. benefits closely before beginning a regiment of Fosamax. When it comes to defective drugs like Fosamax, understanding your legal rights is critical for securing the compensation you deserve from the drugmakers who put your health at risk.