Osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), or “jaw bone death,” is a rare dental condition marked by lesions in the gum over the maxilla (upper jaw) or mandible (lower jaw) that don’t heal even after treatment is administered. Jaw bone affected by ONJ does not receive an adequate supply of blood and as a result weakens and can eventually die. Deterioration of the jaw bone is often accompanied by pain or numbness in the region.
While the exact cause of ONJ is uncertain, the disease does have several known risk factors. Both tobacco and alcohol can contribute to ONJ, but it is also likely to occur after dental extractions or other surgeries, and practicing good oral hygiene after an invasive dental procedure can reduce the risk of developing ONJ. There is, however, evidence that suggests bisphosphonates, such as Fosamax, drugs commonly taken by those suffering from or at risk for osteoporosis, are associated with ONJ.
Osteoporosis and ONJ
Bisphosphonates such as Fosamax are taken by millions of women (and men) to help maintain bone density by slowing down the process by which old bone is broken down. It has been theorized that the drugs contribute to ONJ by disrupting the body’s natural healing process, but the exact association between the bone disease and bisphosphonates is not fully understood. There is, however, a large body of scientific evidence that shows an association between bisphosphonates and ONJ. The most recent study to explore the topic found that 83% of ONJ sufferers had used bisphosphonates, an elevated risk that researchers say suggests a causal link.
Merck Has Won Five Fosamax ONJ Trials
While lawyers for Merck, the manufacturer of Fosamax, have been successful in defending the company against plaintiffs who brought suit for ONJ brought on by Fosamax use, there are still thousands of cases pending for claims of harm brought on by use of the medication. More state and federal Fosmax ONJ and femur fracture trials are scheduled to commence this year.
RLG Attorneys Help Individuals Injured by Fosamax
If you feel you have a case against Merck due to an injury you have suffered from using Fosamax, do not despair. The lawyers at the Rottenstein Law Group can help you determine whether you have grounds to bring a lawsuit against the company because of your injuries. Our lawyers have over 25 years of experience helping individuals in mass tort and personal injury litigation.
For more information, and to receive a free, confidential case assessment, please fill out the short contact form at the top right of this page.