Study Outlines Problems After Bisphosphonate Femur Fractures

Individuals who suffer a femur fracture from Fosamax, or another oral bisphosphonate medication, may face a risk of serious complications and a long recovery, according to the findings of recent research. 

In a study published last month in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers found that nearly 40% of patients who suffered an atypical femur fracture while taking a bisphophonate medication like Fosamax, Actonel and other popular medications, reported delayed healing times. A similar percentage also reported suffering a second bone fracture within the following four years.

Researchers surveyed individuals who suffered one or more atypical femur fractures during bisphophhonate use, which typically occur with little or no trauma at all. The average duration of bisphosphonate use prior to the injury was 9.5 years, and approximately 94% of the respondents started treatment with Fosamax.

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Long-term use of Fosamax and other bisphosphonate medications have been linked to an increased risk of these unusual, sudden femur fractures, involving complete breaks of the thigh bone under circumstances that would not normally cause such an injury, such as while taking a step or falling from standing height or less.

Researchers researchers found that these bisphosphonate fractures often lead to delayed healing and an increased risk of other fractures.

In many cases individuals reported experiencing pain before the complete fracture occurred, leading researchers to suggest that the presence of femur pain among Fosamax users could lead to early diagnosis and potential intervention to prevent more severe complications.

Warnings About Femur Fractures from Bisphosphonate Medications

Concerns about the potential risk of femur fractures with Fosamax and other bisphosphonates have been known for several years, and the FDA required manufacturers of the drugs to add new warnings about the risk of femur fractures from bisphosphonates in October 2010.

The new warnings provided information to consumers indicating that they should contact their doctors if they experience groin pain or other signs of problems that may develop before a complete fracture.

In June, the FDA released new recommended guidelines for taking bisphosphonates that even suggested exposure by people with osteoporosis should be limited. The new FDA consumer guide recommends a three to five year period of use should be considered, at least until more definitive data becomes available.

Merck & Co. currently faces hundreds of Fosamax fracture lawsuits that have been filed by individuals who claim the drug maker failed to adequately warn about the potential risk of problems.  Complaints allege that side effects of Fosamax may weaken the ability of the femur bone to repair itself from microdamage, increasing the risk of a sudden femur fracture.

Despite the risks presented by long-term bisphosphonate use, researchers in this latest study found that 44% of patients who suffered a femur fracture were still placed back on Fosamax or another bisphosphonate.


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