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  • About Fosamax

    Fosamax, also known by its generic name of alendronic acid, is a medication used to treat osteoporosis. It appears either on its own or in combination with Vitamin D in a formulation known as Fosamax D. A generic version, alendronate, and Fosamax are prescribed as 5 mg, 10 mg, and 40 mg doses to be taken daily, and weekly doses of 35 mg and 70 mg. Fosamax is one of the most popular drugs used for osteoporosis, with over 37 million prescriptions written for this medication in 2008 alone.

    Fosamax is not absorbed well by the stomach, but it does bind well to the bones after absorbed, where, like other drugs in the bisphosphate class, it prevents certain types of bone cells from destroying bone tissue. This process, known as bone resorption, is responsible for the release of calcium from bone tissue, and is one of the mechanisms underlying osteoporosis. Fosamax is stronger than most other medications in its class in terms of inhibiting resorption, and additionally, does not convert new bone tissue into minerals. Calcium and Vitamin D are often needed in order to ensure the maximum preservation of bone tissue.

    Fosamax can be used to treat osteoporosis in both males and females, from either postmenopausal or steroid-related osteoporosis. Fosamax can also be used to treat other bone related diseases, including Paget’s disease.

    Fosamax has been linked to a variety of side effects, including:

    • Esophageal ulcers, some of which require hospitalization.
    • Skin rash
    • Joint or bone pain
    • Osteonecrosis of the jaw

    Additionally, there is a potential link between taking Fosamax and a specific type of femoral fracture. This fracture goes straight through the thigh bone, and occurs after little trauma, or in some cases, no trauma at all. In the most extreme cases, people taking Fosamax had weeks of aching in their thigh, and then the bone would abruptly break, sometimes while they were just walking or standing still. These unexplained fractures seem to occur mostly in women that have been taking Fosamax, or its generic equivalent, for periods of five or more years. These fractures are thought to occur because of the way Fosamax works; it can make the femur more brittle, and it interferes with the bone’s ability to repair itself.

    In response to the claims that Fosamax can cause a sudden break in the femur, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has placed Fosamax under review, and in October 2010, the FDA issued a warning to health care practitioners and patients that Fosamax could place people at risk of this specific type of fracture. Although research has not indicated an ideal length of time for women to take Fosamax to prevent or treat osteoporosis, many doctors are placing five year limits on prescribing this particular medication in response to the outbreak of fractures.

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