Persons using a class of drugs know as bisphosonates have been experiencing the decay or death of their jawbone, which is known as osteonecrosis. Merck's Fosamax® is the most popular bisphosonate; others include Aredia®, Actonel® and Zometa®. These drugs are prescribed to treat osteoporosis. Last year alone, doctors wrote an estimated 22.4 million prescriptions for Fosamax®.
Bisphosonates can be taken either orally or intravenously. It appears that those taking the drug intravenously may be at the greatest risk for the development of osteonecrosis, because those patients receive a stronger dose. Osteonecrosis appears to occur when the bone tissue of the jaw fails to heal properly from any trauma that causes the jawbone to be exposed in the mouth. For example, this type of exposure can occur from something as simple as a tooth extraction. Once the jawbone begins to die, treatment generally focuses on eradicating infection and relieving pain. More aggressive treatments may include removing large portions of dead bone. The development of Osteonecrosis is associated with the use of Fosamax® or other bisphosphonates.
Unlike many injuries, osteonecrosis of the jaw is not common in the general population and thus believed to be a "signature" injury when it appears in a patient taking Fosamax®.
BCA is interested in assisting clients who have suffered osteonecrosis of the jaw bone.