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Study Links Risk of Fractured Femur to Fosamax, Other Bisphosphonates

A class of drugs designed to strengthen bones, which includes popular osteoporosis drugs like Fosamax and Actonel, have been found to carry an increased risk of atypical femur fractures, according to new data. 

In a study published this week by the New England Journal of Medicine, Swedish researchers confirmed that bisphosphonate medications are linked to an increased the risk of thigh bone breaks. However, they said that the overall risk of femur fractures from Fosamax, Actonel, Zometa and similar drugs is still relatively low.

Researchers looked at nearly 13,000 women and identified those who suffered atypical femur fractures, finding that 78% of the women who experienced the bone fracture problems were taking some form of bisphosphonate. They determined that the women were 47.3 times more likely to suffer an atypical femur fracture if they took a bisphosphonate drug like Fosamax, and the risk was increased the longer the women had been taking the medication.

However, researchers pointed out in their conclusions that while bisphosphonates clearly increased the risk of atypical femur fractures a significant amount, the actual risk of suffering such a thigh fracture was still relatively low. 

Fosamax (alendronate sodium) is the most widely prescribed of the bisphosphonates, which have been increasingly associated with these rare fractures, typically occurring with falls from standing height or less.

The FDA added warnings about the risk of bone fractures from Fosamax and other similar bisphosphonate medications in October 2010, requiring drug makers to warn consumers that they should seek immediate medical attention if they experience new groin pain or thigh pain while taking the drug, which can occur weeks or months before a complete fracture of the femur on Fosamax occurs.

More than 100 people have filed a Fosamax fractured femur lawsuit, alleging that Merck failed to adequately research their medication or provide adequate warnings before they suffered a femur fracture or bone break.

Merck has recently asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to centralize and consolidate the Fosamax bone fracture litigation before District Judge Garrett Brown in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, where most of the cases are currently pending and where the drug maker has it’s headquarters.

The claims are currently contained in 36 lawsuits that have been filed in at least 8 different federal district courts throughout the United States. In addition, the number of lawsuits is expected to continue to increase as Fosamax fracture lawyers continue to review and file new cases.

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