Recently I wrote about the increased risk of broken bones as a danger associated with popular acid reflux drugs. Now, increased risk of bone fractures has been reported as an effect of drugs meant to prevent bone fractures. Consumer Reports has warned consumers about bisphosphonates, popular osteoporosis drugs such as alendronate (Fosamax and its generic equivalent), ibandronate (Boniva), risedronate (Actonel) and zoledronic acid (Reclast). A Canadian consumer group is planning to launch a class-action lawsuit against Merck, the maker of Fosamax for allegedly concealing the drug’s harmful side effects. As a dangerous drugs attorney, I hope that the FDA will take quick action so that people will not be needlessly harmed by these drugs.
Bisphosphonates are marketed to women to prevent bone loss from osteoporosis, but doctors also prescribe them for osteopenia, or “pre-osteoporosis.” According to Consumer Reports, the drugs can provide modest help with building bone and preventing fractures in vertebrae bones for patients with osteoporosis, but they aren’t clearly effective for osteopenia, a condition that affects more than half of all white, pre-menopausal American women. In fact, studies show that taking bisphosphonates can lead to weak, brittle femur (thigh) bones that break spontaneously — not from falls, but during low-energy activities such as walking down a flight of stairs. The drugs can also cause osteonecrosis, also known as Fosamax dead-jaw, in which patients suffer jaw damage after dental work.
Carey, Danis & Lowe is currently handling lawsuits related to osteonecrosis caused by bisphosphonates. Patients taking bisphosphonates also face risks including throat or chest pain, difficulty swallowing and heartburn, abnormal heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation); and incapacitating bone, joint and muscle pain. The FDA issued an alert in March about its ongoing safety review of bisphosphonates, saying there was “no clear connection” between the drugs and femur fractures, emphasizing that health care professionals needed to be aware of the risk.
One of the most important problems with bisphosphonates is that their long-term effects are unknown. They are stored in bone for up to 10 years after a patient stops taking the drugs, and during this time, the drugs may actually damage the bone’s natural ability to repair and maintain itself. Over the first few years of treatment with bisphosphonates, patients appear to be doing better, but after that, it appears that their condition worsens. In 2008, bisphosphonate sales generated more than $3.5 billion, and that profit alone may be enough to prevent Merck from studying the problem — to the detriment of thousands of women.
As a dangerous medication lawyer, I’d like to point out that placing profits ahead of people’s lives and health is not just unethical, it’s illegal. Drug companies have a responsibility to warn consumers of risks that may come with taking their drugs. If they don’t, and patients suffer because they took a drug they thought they could trust, drug manufacturers can be held responsible for the resulting physical, emotional and financial harm. Patients with bones weakened because of osteoporosis or osteopenia would not take prescription drugs that they knew would cause them to fracture their thigh bones during normal activities. Patients who do suffer injuries like this can require the drug manufacturers to pay for medical expenses, lost wages, permanent injuries, pain and suffering and other damages related to the injuries that the drugs caused.
The defective prescription drug lawyers at Carey, Danis & Lowe help victims of dangerous prescription and over-the-counter drugs to fight back against the drug manufacturers that injured them. Because we work with so many clients who have been hurt by dangerous drugs, we are sympathetic to and knowledgeable about the problems and concerns our clients share, and we are successful at upholding their rights. If you or a loved one have been hurt by a dangerous prescription or over the counter medication, please let Carey, Danis & Lowe help. For a free consultation, call us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400 or contact us through our website.