Fosamax and Jaw Pain
Many people who have taken Fosamax have suffered osteonecrosis of the jaw, a serious degenerative condition of bone tissue. The main ingredient in this medication is alendronic acid, a bisphosphonate that is typically used to counteract bone loss. It is effective at treating osteoporosis and other bone diseases, but the mechanism it uses to accomplish this can also be damaging to the body. If untreated, this condition can result in painful lesions, secondary infections, and severe pain. Bone grafts and cosmetic surgery may be required in particularly severe cases.
Osteonecrosis of the Jaw Has Been Tied to Fosamax
Fosamax rarely causes osteonecrosis of the jaw, but its linkage to the disease has been confirmed by Merck, the drug’s manufacturer. This condition is closely tied to the drug’s pharmacology. Alendronic acid is a regulating substance in the body, specifically regarding osteoclast activity. Bone tissue in the body is strictly regulated by osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Osteoblasts produce bone tissue while osteoclasts absorb bone tissue. In a healthy person, these two exist in homeostasis, so bone density remains fairly constant. However, as people age, their bone density may drop due to loss of homeostasis. Alendronic acid seeks to correct this by inhibiting bone resorption by osteoclasts. In short, the medication works not by adding bone tissue, but by preventing its destruction by the body’s natural processes.
Osteonecrosis Caused By Fosamax
While this may maintain bone density, Fosamax can also cause osteonecrosis of the jaw by keeping older bone tissue around. Over time, it’s natural for bone to become damaged or diseased. Osteoclasts prevent this from becoming a problem by eliminating the tissue. However, alendronic acid prevents this resumption from occurring as quickly, so damaged or diseases bone may remain. This will cause serious complications after a while, because damaged bone can harm other cells.
Fosamax Half Life
This condition is exacerbated by the unique chemistry of Fosamax. Osteonecrosis of the jaw is a serious concern because alendronic acid remains in the patient for a long time. In fact, the terminal half-life of alendronic acid is about 10 years. Doctors are normally okay with this because the medication is poorly absorbed by the body. This is due to its strong negative charge. Only about 0.6 percent of the dose is absorbed by the patient, and half of this is immediately excreted in urine. The remainder is slowly taken up by the bone. The problem with a long half-life is that the medication can cause complications several years after administration, making it difficult to get an accurate diagnosis.
Degenerative Jaw Bone Disease
This is a serious condition, so doctors should monitor patients on Fosamax. Osteonecrosis of the jaw normally presents with pain and inflammation first, though drainage may also be present. Before long, the mandibular and maxilla may appear in lesions on the gums. Exposed bone tissue is a major concern, and can result in deadly secondary infections if not treated immediately.
More than 1,000 people have filed lawsuits against Merck because of dangerous complications related to the drug. A jury in Florida awarded $8 million to a patient with the disease after they found the medication was particularly dangerous due to its design. Anyone else who has taken the drug and suffered from this disease should consider speaking to a drug injury attorney for representation.