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Fosamax (alendronate sodium) is a prescription drug that treats osteoporosis in men and postmenopausal women.

Osteoporosis is a health condition that weakens bones. It may have natural causes, or patients may develop it from taking corticosteroids. Fosamax has proven effective in patients suffering from severe bone loss and loss of bone density.

Doctors also prescribe Fosamax to treat Paget's disease of bone. Paget's disease is a medical condition in which the body replaces healthy bones with weak ones.

Merck and Company, Inc. makes Fosamax. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this bisphosphonate drug in 1999. Other bisphosphonate drugs include:

  • Actonel
  • Aredia
  • Boniva
  • Didronel
  • Reclast
  • Skelid
  • Zometa

Here, we'll describe the side effects and adverse health consequences you may experience while taking Fosamax. We'll also discuss recent news and legal issues regarding this medication.

Talk to Your Healthcare Professional Before Taking Fosamax

Before taking Fosamax, meet with your healthcare professional to get medical advice. You must tell them if you've ever had an unusual allergic reaction to Fosamax or other foods, preservatives, or dyes. Let them know if you're pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding.

Also, tell your healthcare professional if you suffer from other health conditions. Some of the conditions that may impact your Fosamax intake include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Kidney problems
  • Heartburn
  • Ulcers
  • Low levels of calcium in your blood
  • Frequent muscle cramps or spasms
  • Osteomalacia (softening of bones due to a lack of vitamin D)

Tell your healthcare professional if you can't sit or stand upright for 30 minutes or are on special diets (such as a low-sodium or low-sugar diet). You should also read your medication guide thoroughly before taking any prescription medication.

Taking Fosamax

Take Fosamax orally with a full glass (6 to 8 oz.) of plain water on an empty stomach. Patients should take Fosamax in the morning before their first food of the day. You must also take Fosamax before any food, beverage, or other medicine (such as antacids, calcium, and vitamin supplements).

Don't lie down for 30 minutes after taking Fosamax. Remaining upright prevents irritation to the esophagus and allows Fosamax to reach your stomach faster.

When taking Fosamax, follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. If you miss a dose of Fosamax, don't take it later in the day. Resume your usual schedule the next morning. Don't take an extra tablet of Fosamax after a missed dose.

Side Effects of Fosamax

Most drugs carry adverse side effects. Whether you take an oral solution of Fosamax or tablets, you'll likely experience some side effects. The most common side effect associated with Fosamax is abdominal pain.

Other less common side effects include:

  • Difficulty or painful swallowing
  • New or worsening heartburn
  • Chest pain
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting (bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds)
  • Black, tarry, or bloody stools
  • Mouth sores or pain in the mouth
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Swelling of eyes, face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Constipation
  • Digestive problems
  • Fever
  • Irritation or pain in the esophagus
  • Muscle pain and joint pain

Skin rash is a rare side effect, but it may be severe and worsen with exposure to sunlight.

Fosamax Drug and Food Interactions

Fosamax and certain other medicines can interact with each other. Tell your healthcare professional about all the medicines you take. This includes prescription and non-prescription medicines. It also includes things like calcium supplements, vitamins, and other substances.

Be sure to tell your healthcare professional if you take any of the following:

  • Aspirin or products that contain aspirin
  • Antacids
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen and naproxen
  • Doxycycline (Doryx, Vibramycin)
  • Quinidine (Quinaglute)
  • Tetracycline (Sumycin)
  • Calcium, iron, or potassium supplements

Your doctor needs this information to ensure you don't experience an adverse drug or food interaction.

Research on Fosamax

The FDA receives reports from patients who experience adverse health consequences after taking prescription drugs. Many patients taking Fosamax reported minor and severe side effects.

One of these severe side effects is osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). ONJ causes your jawbone to crumble and die, hence its nickname, "jaw death." ONJ causes severe pain, loose teeth, exposed jawbones, loss of jaw function, and disfigurement of the face.

During clinical trials of more than 17,000 patients, there were no reports of ONJ. Cancer patients taking bisphosphonate medications may have been the primary or only reporters of ONJ. Patients suffering from ONJ after taking Fosamax sued Merck. The drugmaker settled over 1,200 lawsuits for more than $27 million.

A study in the British Medical Journal linked the use of osteoporosis bisphosphonate drugs to esophageal cancer. Researchers are still investigating the long-term effects of taking Fosamax. Generally, reports show that the benefits of Fosamax and other bisphosphonates far outweigh the potential risks.

What To Do if You Get Sick After Taking Fosamax

If you or a loved one experiences dangerous side effects or unusual medical conditions while taking Fosamax, contact your healthcare professional immediately. It may also be best to consult a product liability attorney. You can discuss your legal options and learn how to protect your legal rights.

Getting Legal Help

All medications have certain anticipated side effects. Some have serious side effects. Drug manufacturers must make their products as reasonably safe as possible. They must also inform the medical community and the public of known risks associated with its drugs.

If a manufacturer fails to do so, they may be legally responsible for patient injuries. If you suffer an injury due to inadequate warnings or the unreasonably dangerous nature of the drug, you may be able to sue the drug manufacturer under product liability.

To learn more about an attorney's role in a pharmaceutical liability case, see our article, Dangerous Drugs. To find an experienced attorney, visit the FindLaw Lawyer Directory.

For more information about Fosamax, see FindLaw's page on Fosamax.

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