Preventing Osteonecrosis of the Jaw while on Bisphosphonate Therapy

fosamax lawsuitWhile a patient undergoes bisphosphonate treatment, he or she should be mindful of the possible complications associated with osteonecrosis of the jaw, especially when dental procedures are needed, medical experts say. Bisphosphonates have been linked by several medical sources as a possible cause of osteonecrosis of the jaw. This complication has been one of the main complaints of people filing lawsuits against Fosamax manufacturer Merck in the past decade. Read here for a description on what is osteonecrosis of the jaw?

Experts are not entirely certain on the exact cause and factors for osteonecrosis of the jaw occurring from bisphosphonate therapy. However, they may recommend certain therapy options that someone can do to prevent it. First and foremost maintaining adequate oral hygiene is essential for preventing osteonecrosis of the jaw as any other preventive measure according to experts. Semiannual visits to your dentist or orthodontist each year is also highly recommended.

In terms of lifestyle measures for minimizing the risk of developing osteonecrosis of the jaw, smoking is best avoided or quit as much as possible. Excessive alcohol consumption is likewise, frowned upon. Before any invasive oral procedure is allowed, it is recommended that detailed x-ray scans of the jaw bone are needed as well.

Taking any dose of intravenous bisphosphonates should be stopped at least for the duration of preparation, during the procedure and including the healing period depending on the procedure. Ideally, bisphosphonate treatment should be discontinued for several months prior to preparation for the procedure and be continued when wound healing is complete.

Treatment of osteonecrosis of the jaw currently revolves around addressing local pain, treating secondary infection, and ensuring adequate nutritional intake with appropriate dietary supplementation. It is generally preferred that any surgery for treatment of this condition be limited to removing or debriding necrotic tissue or debris.

Although experts cannot guarantee that osteonecrosis of the jaw could be avoided in most cases even by following these measures, at least some semblance of maintaining good oral health while taking bisphosphonate medication is better than doing nothing and might better your chances than otherwise expected.

If you or anyone close to you might have suffered osteonecrosis of the jaw or any other serious and debilitating complication due to taking bisphosphonates like Fosamax or other similar medication, you deserve to know what your options for action are and what compensation you are entitled to under the law. Contact the Rottenstein Law Group today and speak with someone regarding Fosamax Class Action Lawsuit. Consultation is free of charge.

URL References:

  • ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2464788/
  • ehow.com/how_2286139_prevent-osteonecrosis.html
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Bisphosphonates Class Action Litigation Coverage Expanded

United States and Canadian courts of law have adopted multiple district litigation proceedings to organize and streamline the process for dispensing justice to plaintiffs filing suit with drug manufacturers of Fosamax, media reports say. Intravenous and oral formulations are both included in complaints against bisphosphonate medications.

Legal controversy has hounded the popular class of osteoporosis medication called bisphosphonates. There are rare and serious side-effects associated with the use of bisphosphonates such as Fosamax, Actonel, Aredia, or Zometa which include atypical femur fractures and osteonecrosis fo the jaw. Major drug manufacturers are currently under scrutiny for producing and marketing these osteoporosis medication the most well known of which is Merck and Co.

In 2000, the FDA received a steadily growing amount of complaints about Fosamax use and links to osteonecrosis of the jaw. This complication was originally thought to be a consequence of intravenous bisphosphonate use but it was later found that oral bisphosphonates can cause similar incidences of the condition.

Osteonecrosis of the jaw or “dead jaw” syndrome is a disfiguring condition that causes the jaw bone to die. The symptoms of this condition are gum and jaw pain, infection, tissue necrosis, numbness, loss of teeth, and impaired wound healing. On September 24, 2004 the FDA ordered Merck to upgrade their warning labels to include osteonecrosis of the jaw, about which legal claims of negligence had been lodged against Merck and which had been difficult to prove. In May 13, 2007 hundreds of cases alleging that Merck was responsible for the faulty nature of Fosamax were filed and awaiting trial with a large number of cases grouped together to form multi-district litigation hearings.

The first lawsuit involving osteonecrosis of the jaw ended in a mistrial but regardless has since opened the floodgates for more class action lawsuits to follow. Later five more bellwether cases have been tried against Merck and all except one resulted in a ruling in favor of Merck; with the only case in favor of the plaintiff appealed to a higher court. Most of these subsequent court cases have ruled that Merck was not responsible for causing damages to the plaintiffs for their use of Fosamax related complications and further determined that the cause of osteonecrosis of the jaw is relatively unknown and not necessarily due to taking Fosamax.

Although Merck has won all except one of its bellwether cases defending Fosamax from being the cause of osteonecrosis of patient’s jaw bones, lawsuits still continue to be brought against them. Lawsuits involving atypical bone fractures are awaiting their turn to be tried against the pharmaceutical company.

As of 2011, approximately 2,345 cases, which include approximately 2,800 plaintiff groups, had been filed and were pending against Merck in either federal or state court in both Canada and the US.

URL References:

  • canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=80c4d7e8-123f-48a5-a914-e1146388d2a8&k=54519
  • merck.com/newsroom/news-release-archive/corporate/2012_0418.html