Fosamax Hip Fracture Risk Identified in New Report

The findings of a new study suggest that side effects of Fosamax and similar bone-strengthening drugs may increase the risk of atypical hip fractures. 

A report released by the European Commission’s Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) links the hip fracture risks to a class of drugs known as bisphosphonates, coming from a PhD thesis by Javier Gorricho-Mendivil, from the NUP/UPNA-Public University of Navarre.

Fosamax is the most widely used medication in this class, introduced by Merck for treatment and prevention of osteoporosis, and now widely available as generic alendronate sodium. While the drug has been used by millions of individuals strengthen bones and reduce the risk of fractures associated with osteoporosis, this report is not the first to link Fosamax to a fracture risk.

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Previously long-term use of Fosamax has been linked to a risk of atypical femur fractures, where patients have suffered a complete thigh bone break following little or no trauma, such as falling from standing height or less. However, Gorricho’s thesis suggests that those atypical fractures are not limited to femurs.

“Hip fracture is the most common cause of admittance to hospital in the traumatology and orthopaedics departments,” Javier Gorricho said. “These fractures are associated with a high rate of mortality and loss of quality of life together with significant costs.

According to the findings, Fosamax and similar drugs, such as Zometa and Actonel, failed to reduce the risk of hip fractures in women 65 or older, but instead were linked to a greater risk of atypical hip fractures. In addition, that risk increased with the length of time consumers used the drug, so the longer someone takes the drug, the higher the risk of a hip fracture.

Gorricho noted that the increased risk of hip fractures with Fosamax and similar drugs, combined with a lack of evidence that the drugs prevented bone breaks among the elderly suggests that more studies need to be conducted to verify that bisphosphonate drugs are both safe and effective.

Merck has faced thousands of Fosamax lawsuits were over the past several years, in which former users alleged that the drug maker failed to adequately warn consumers and the medical community about risks associated with the medication. In addition to claims involving atypical femur fractures, a number of lawsuits were filed on behalf of users who suffered deterioration of the jaw bone, known as osteonecrosis of the jaw.

In 2013, Merck agreed to pay nearly $30 million in Fosamax settlements to resolve more than 1,100 jaw injury lawsuits, coming after several high-profile jury trials that were widely covered by the media.

In the Fosamax fracture lawsuits, the judge presiding over the litigation has issued an order that may lead to the dismissal of most cases, after finding that there was evidence the FDA would not have approved an earlier warning update for Fosamax about the risk of femur fractures. That decision is currently being appealed.


  • CharlotteOctober 1, 2015 at 3:36 am

    I took fosamax and now have osteoporosis

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