Malpractice Lawsuit Filed Over Fosamax Dental Injury

A West Virginia woman has filed a dental malpractice lawsuit against her dentist and dental clinic, alleging that she suffered a jaw-related injury because they failed to ask whether she had taken the osteoporosis drug Fosamax, which has been found to weaken the jaw bone and make it susceptible to severe and debilitating complications following dental procedures. 

The Fosamax dental injury lawsuit was filed on May 20 in Kanawha Circuit Court by Bonne Ford, who is suing Dr. Mark W. Simpson and Simpson Dental Associates. Ford is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, accusing the defendants not only of error, but also of attempting to conceal their mistakes, according to a story in the West Virginia Record.

Ford was treated by Dr. Simpson on November 6, 2007, March 20, 2008 and September 23, 2008, as part of a series of surgeries to receive dental implants. Ford’s lawsuit alleges that Simpson never made a proper inquiry of her medical history, and did not know that she used the drug Fosamax.

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Ford says she suffered substantial dental pain throughout her procedure, and that the dentist negligently placed two implants too close together, causing her to suffer a significant infection, concealed her injuries and complications, and never warned her of the health risks. The implants ultimately failed and were lost, and there was accompanying damage to the surrounding bone and neighboring teeth, Ford claims.

At the time of the dental treatment, it was well known within the medical community that side effects of Fosamax, a drug designed to strengthen bones and prevent fractures, can actually cause decay of the jaw bone. This can lead to a condition known as osteonecrosis of the jaw from Fosamax, where portions of the jaw bone may become exposed in the mouth, leading to pain, infection and other complications. The condition often surfaces after a person who has used Fosamax for a long period of time undergoes a dental procedure that produces a trauma to the jaw.

Fosamax (alendronate sodium), is a member of a class of drugs known as bisphosphonates, which is prescribed for treatment of osteoporosis. Fosamax was approved by FDA in October 1995, and has been used by more than 20 million people. The drug generated over $3 billion in annual sales for Merck before it became available as a generic last year.

Merck faces about 1,000 Fosamax lawsuits over their failure to adequately warn consumers and the medical community about the risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw, which prevented many doctors from taking preventative actions that could have reduced the risk of aggravating the Fosamax dental injury. The first lawsuits were filed in about 2006.

Last week, a federal jury awarded $8 million in a Fosamax jaw damage lawsuit filed by a woman who developed osteonecrosis of the jaw in 2003 after using the medication for a number of years.

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