Fosamax, manufactured by Merk & Co., is in a class of drugs called bisphosphonates. Fosamax is a prescription medicine for the treatment or prevention of osteoporosis (thinning of bone) in women after menopause. It is designed to reduce the chance of having a hip or spinal fracture, to increase bone mass in people with osteoporosis, and to treat other bone diseases such as Paget's disease..
A survey of the published medical literature on Fosamax femur fractures indicates that a new pattern of fractures is now being noted in patients possibly as a result of being on prolonged Fosamax or other bisphosphonate therapy. The new pattern of fractures that doctors are seeing is referred to as atypical femoral fracture. These fractures are subtrochanteric or femoral shaft fractures and are called "atypical" because they commonly result from very low-energy impacts,such as the common act of stepping down stairs. The femur is one of the strongest bones in the body and should not fracture as a result of a low impact stress.
A major case control study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) entitled, "Bisphosphonate Use and the Risk of Subtrochanteric or Femoral Shaft Fractures in Older Women," concluded that older women on bisphosphonate therapy for osteoporosis for 5 years or longer had a 274% higher chance of subtrochanteric or femoral shaft fracture. Thus, the term Fosamax fracture is unecessarily limiting. The correct term probably should be bisphosphonate femur fracture.
Other bisphosponates include and are marketed as: Actonel, Aredia, Boniva, Didronel, Reclast, Skelid, and Zometa. Aredia and Zometa are typically used in conjuncton with cancer treatement and are much more potent than Fosamax and other osteoporosis drugs.
In October 2010, the FDA issued a warning that Fosamax and other bisphosphonates put patients at risk for atypical thigh bone (femur) fractures. FDA Fosamax warnings and information can be accessed here.
Many consumers fear that in order to pursue a legal claim for a Fosamax fracture or bisphosphonate fracture they must join a class action. Consumers commonly believe that class actions rarely result in fair compensation for the injured consumer. The fact is that most of the Fosamax fracture cases are not class actions. Stand-alone cases for individual consumers are being filed in state and federal courts. State court cases may only be filed in states in which there is jurisdiction over one or more of the named defendants, otherwise they will likely be removed by Merk's lawyers to federal court. Cases filed in or removed to federal court have all been consolidated for purposes of discovery. A panel of federal judges comprise what is called the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). On May 23, 2011, the JPML ordered that all lawsuits filed or removed to federal court that allege that Fosamax caused an atypical femur fractur be consolidated for purposes of discovery and centralized in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey and assigned to the Judge Gerrett E. Brown, Jr. This consolidated federal multidistrict litigation is called: In re: Fosamax (Alendronate Sodium) Products Liability Litigation(No. 11) ("MDL No. 2243"). On February 2, 2012, the Fosamax MDL was expanded to include federal cases in which the patient took other bisphosphonates and also took Fosamax.