Fosamax and femur fractures : FDA is investigating possible links

An x-rayed femur

The femur is one of the strongest bones in the body. Image from Flickr.

A connection between Fosamax and femur fractures is currently under investigation by the FDA. Fosamax is a drug intended to treat bone weakness, though some doctors have been noticing a possible connection to Fosamax and fractured bones. The Medicine and Healthcare Regulatory Agency out of the UK published information in March of 2009 about the “atypical stress fractures” in patients taking Bisphosphonates such as Fosamax.

What is Fosamax?

Fosamax is a drug intended to treat osteoporosis – the weakening of bones that happens due to age or lack of certain nutrients. These drugs work kind of like short term installment loans – they shut down the cells that cannibalize bone tissue, which strengthens the bone. It’s a member of the class of drugs called “bisphosphonates.”

How are Fosamax and femur fractures connected?

However, just like an installment loan, this bone has to eventually be paid back to the body. Dr. Robert Bunning, a rheumatologist at National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington DC theorizes that extended use of these drugs (over 5 years) lead to “frozen bone” syndrome, where the bones are so dense they become very brittle.

What is the FDA doing about the connection between Fosamax and femur fractures?

The FDA has stated that it is “aware of and investigating” the connection between taking Fosamax and femur fractures. It has not yet presented any study results or required a warning to patients and doctors. In the past, though, the FDA has put out safety reviews of the bisphosphonate drug class that include warnings about severe bone and joint pain that can be caused by these drugs.

What if I take Fosamax?

If you currently take Fosamax or any other bisphosphonate drug, you should first and foremost talk to your doctor. Osteoporosis, the condition Fosamax is intended to treat, can be very dangerous if left untreated. The FDA and the company that makes Fosamax have yet to come out with any definitive studies on connections between Fosamax and femur fractures, so you should make a decision based your opinion and that of your doctor.

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