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Fosamax Linked To Esophageal Cancer

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Monday, February 02, 2009 1:12 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA & Prescription Drugs, Osteoporosis, Osteonecrosis, Bisphosphonates, Esophageal Cancer

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IMAGE SOURCE:© Fosamax for Osteoporosis Treatment

Fosamax, a popular osteoporosis drug by Merck, and other similar drugs have been linked to some rare, but serious, side effects, including heart irregularity, osteonecrosis of the jaw and most recently esophageal Cancer.

In a letter published in the January 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the FDA’s Diane Wysowski indicates 23 cases of esophageal cancer in patients taking Fosamax (known generically as alendronate sodium), including eight deaths, have been reported to the agency since the drug was first marketed in 1995.

Researchers should further explore the potential link between bisphosphonate drugs and cancer, said Diane Wysowski of the FDA’s division of drug risk assessment.

Two years typically lapsed between the start of the drug and the development of esophageal cancer.

There have been 21 reported cases in Europe and Japan – and six deaths - involving Fosamax, and six instances where Procter & Gamble's Actonel (risedronate) and Didronel (etidronate), and Roche's Boniva (ibandronate) may have been involved.

These drugs have already been associated with inflammation of the esophagus, which is believed to be a precursor to the development of cancer. As such, these drugs should not be given to patients with Barrett’s esophagus.

Doctors should be cautious in prescribing Fosamax to patients who don’t have serious bone loss and dentists should be more cautious in performing dental procedures on patients using the drug until more is known about the link between Fosamax and these serious side effects.

Bisphosphonates, are a class of drugs that slow or stop reabsorption of bone. They can reduce the risk of bone fracture, and in some cases can increase bone mass in those with osteoporosis. In cancer patients, they slow bone turnover in people with cancer of the bones or multiple myeloma.

An estimated 10 million Americans, mostly women, have osteoporosis. #


2 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by kirstin rogers
Monday, February 02, 2009 6:04 PM EST

Hmmm more bad news about the former water treatment chemicals' use in humans. BTW Fosamax (known genetically as alendronate sodium) should read "known generically"...

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Monday, February 02, 2009 6:18 PM EST

Hi, Kirstin!

Thanks for stopping by and for pointing out my typo so I could fix it :)

Comments for this article are closed.

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