In 1995, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Merck & Co., Inc.’s Fosamax (alendronate sodium), a member of the bisphosphonate drug class meant to treat osteoporosis. Although Merck has earned many billions of dollars from Fosamax, it faces the possibility of distributing money back to some of its consumers for several reasons relating to side effects the drug can potentially cause. Examples include jaw bone death, esophageal cancer, eye disease, and unusual femur fractures. Merck faces thousands of lawsuits from people who took Fosamax and suffered these side effects. In 2010, the FDA even published research in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) finding long-term Fosamax use to be of little value to people with osteoporosis. One of the authors commented, “I think a lot of people are going to come off this drug.”
Those who have taken Fosamax for a few years might be unsure what therapies they can take up instead of Fosamax that will continue to help them maintain their bone density. Here are some examples.
One of the best alternatives to taking a bisphosphonate is to eat well. Patients with brittle bones benefit from consuming calcium and vitamin D.
- The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recommends women aged 51 and over get 1,200 mg/day of calcium.
- The NAS sets the recommended number of international units (IU) of vitamin D, which absorbs calcium, to 600 IU per day for women under 70 and 800 IU per day after 70.
Bone density and bone mass can be maintained with regular exercise. Those going off bisphosphonates might want to consider adding these workouts to their routines.
- Weight-bearing exercise: walking, jogging, hiking, and even dancing
- Resistance exercise: This means working against the weight of another object with free weights, cable and pulley machines, and bodyweight training such as push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, and others.
- Flexibility exercises: Practicing yoga or Tai Chi, or taking up stretching exercises can improve the health of joints and prevent injury.
Fosamax does affect bone density in some beneficial ways, so adopting non-pharmaceutical habits isn’t the only way to stave off osteoporosis. There are a few drugs people with osteoporosis can take that do not cause thigh bone breaks.
- Denosumab: An FDA-approved prescription drug marketed as Prolia, this drug helps postmenopausal women with osteoporosis who are at a high risk of fracture.
- Strontium: A 2004 NEJM article found that strontium supplements reduce nonvertabral fractures and increase bone density. It is available over the counter.
- Raloxifene: This drug is marketed as Evista and can treat thinning bones in postmenopausal women. It might even reduce the probability of certain types of breast cancer.
RLG Advocates for People Injured by Fosamax
Although Fosamax has bone-strengthening properties, it can also make them brittle and susceptible to fractures and jaw bone death. If you took Fosamax and believe it injured you, the Rottenstein Law Group can help you seek compensation from Merck for medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other damages. For a free, confidential case review with an attorney, click on this link or call 1-877-476-1516.