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Following its release into the United States consumer market in late 1995, Fosamax – also known by its generic equivalent alendronate — has been looked upon as a miracle therapy by millions of Americans suffering from a bone disease or who may be at risk of a certain muscoskeletal disorder.  Developed and widely sold by one of the leading drug makers Merck and Co., it has been frequently utilized by osteoporotic patients, especially postmenopausal women.

A formulation classified within the class of drugs known as bisphosphonates, the anti-resorptive drug mainly works by changing the cycle of bone formation breakdown in the body, and aids in inhibiting bone loss while sustaining and maintaining bone mass – a prevention commonly taken to impede detrimental and limiting bone fractures.

As the first bone-strengthening medication to enter the retail industry, Fosamax was approved for indications such as prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in men and postmenopausal women, and Paget’s disease of the bone. Fosamax has been highly regarded as a bone-sparing medication in the bisphosphonates class of drugs.

Less Severe Side Effects of Fosamax

As were the other formulations, Fosamax also bear certain side effects that may counter its most-sought benefits, according to medical experts.  Although many people may possess a more flexible boundary when it comes to medication effects, some patients may still go through the unanticipated adverse effects of Fosamax.

The most common side effects involving the use of Fosamax include mild heartburn, bloating, mild nausea, vomiting or stomach pain, diarrhea, gas or constipation, mild joint pain, swelling hands and feet, dizziness, eye pain or headache.

Potentially Harmful Adverse Effects Linked to Fosamax

Deteriorating Jawbone

Bisphosphonates such as Fosamax have been reportedly connected to a number of unanticipated side effects, after it obtained approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration, to enter the country’s retail market. Numerous studies may have found a possible association with the intake of Fosamax for a long duration and the occurrence of deteriorating jawbone problems in some patients, a condition also called as osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ).

Incapacitating Pain

Taking Fosamax and other bisphosphonates drugs has also been reported to cause an increased likelihood of experiencing crippling pain in the bone, joint, and muscle in some patients, reportedly harboring a safety alert from the US FDA, highlighting the importance of diagnosis and treatment to doctors and users alike.

Atypical Fractures

A 2011 research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed an increased risk of low-energy fractures nearly three times higher in postmenopausal women who have been taking bisphosphonates for more than five years, compared to patients who have been under the medication for less than three months.  Also known as atypical fractures, these serious injuries are typically found in older adults with declining health, according to medical journals.  Biphosphonate medications reportedly used in the study were Actonel (risedronate), Didronel (etidronate), and Fosamax (alendronate sodium).

Irregular heartbeat

Another previously conducted study which was documented in the Drug Safety journal, has also examined the possible connection involving bisphosphonates and the occurrence of atrial fibrillation (irregular and often rapid heart rate).  Although atrial fibrillation has been observed in some of the study cohort, the research team explained that the benefits offered by bisphosphonates may still outweigh its risks especially to those who may need aid for fracture prevention (osteoporotic women, concluding that the study findings were conflicting.

What Experts Have to Say

Although the bisphosphonates have been surrounded with controversies, medical experts highlight that many patients may still benefit from the bone-protecting qualities of these drugs.  Although the aforementioned potential adverse effects may not be comprehensive, experts encourage patients to work a collaborative effort with their health care team as their first source of information as a regard a medications benefits and possible risks, and report any signs of adverse effects for subsequent treatment.

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