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Zometa: News and Research

Zometa (zoledronic acid) is a drug doctors use to treat hypercalcemia. Hypercalcemia is a condition where you have high blood calcium levels. Oncologists also use Zometa to treat patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

Chemotherapy can weaken a patient's bone density. This is especially true for patients with the following conditions:

  • Multiple myeloma
  • Breast cancer
  • Lung cancer

These types of cancer can spread to the bones, making them weaker and more susceptible to fracture.

Novartis manufactures Zometa. The FDA approved this injection drug in August 2001. It falls into a class of medications known as intravenous bisphosphonates. While the drug has proven beneficial for many cancer patients, the drug carries serious health risks.

Here, we'll describe Zometa's adverse side effects. We'll also discuss recent news and research about the drug. Finally, we'll explain what to do if you become sick after taking this prescription.

August 25, 2022: Study Finds That Zometa Helps Patients With Osteoporosis

A study in Frontiers of Pharmacology found that Zometa and other drugs containing zoledronic acid may help women with osteoporosis.

Zometa is a first-line anti-osteoporotic drug that doctors can use to treat women with bone loss and bone density issues. The drug helps improve bone density. It also suppresses bone resorption. The drug can be beneficial for women with bone pain and other skeletal-related events.

December 21, 2020: JAMA Oncology Study Confirms Risk of ONJ

In December 2020, the National Cancer Institute funded a study to see if Zometa causes osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). The study appeared in JAMA Oncology in January 2021. The SWOG Cancer Research Network conducted the study using 3,500 participants.

The researchers confirmed a link between Zometa and ONJ. ONJ is a condition that weakens the bones around the jawbone to the point where the tissue starts to die. Prior research found that Zometa patients had a 1-15% risk of developing this disorder. The NCI wanted to pinpoint precisely how high the risk of ONJ was with ongoing use of the drug.

The study found that a patient's risk of developing ONJ increased by 1% yearly. For example, after one year of using the drug Zometa, patients had a 1% risk of the disease. After two years, that risk increased to 2%, and so on.

December 20, 2018: Zometa May Help Older Women with Osteopenia

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine investigated the bone drug Zometa and other drugs containing zoledronic acid to see if they help with osteopenia. There was ample evidence that these medications help postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. But there was no conclusive evidence regarding the drug's efficacy in treating osteopenia.

This 2018 double-blind study examined 2,000 women over 65 with osteopenia. Half the women received zoledronic acid, while the other half received a placebo. The study found that women taking zoledronic acid had a much lower risk of nonvertebral and vertebral fractures. Specifically, these women had a lower risk of hip and neck fractures.

May 24, 2010: Clinical Trials Find That Zometa May Reduce Risk of Recurrent Breast Cancer

In May 2010, researchers at the 33rd Annual ESMO Congress in Stockholm, Sweden, presented evidence that Zometa may reduce breast cancer recurrence. The study involved three clinical trials investigating whether zoledronic acid helped lessen a woman's chances of recurrent breast cancer.

The study found that the drug did help patients with early-stage breast cancer. This was important since women who develop recurring breast cancer have a 60% mortality rate. The study looked at pre- and postmenopausal women suffering from local and distant breast cancer. Later studies would question the results of these clinical trials.

September 2004: Novartis and FDA Revise Bisphosphonate Prescribing Information

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified dental healthcare professionals of revisions to prescribing information. The new information described the osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) observed in cancer patients receiving treatment with intravenous bisphosphonates.

Novartis manufactures and sells Aredia, Zometa, and bisphosphonate medicines to inhibit bone loss and bone metastases caused by cancer. The prescribing information recommends that cancer patients receive a dental examination before starting bisphosphonate treatment. The materials also warn patients to avoid invasive dental procedures while on these medications.

What To Do if You Develop ONJ After Taking Zometa

If you become sick after using Zometa, you have options. You may be able to sue the drug manufacturer under product liability law. Drug manufacturers have a duty to market and sell safe drugs. They must also disclose their drugs' side effects and potential adverse health issues. If they fail, they may be liable for your injuries.

The best way to know if you have a valid claim is to meet with an experienced drug and medical device product liability lawyer. Visit FindLaw.com's attorney directory to find a lawyer near you.

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