Seattle Group Health study links osteoporosis drug to heart problems

Both The Seattle Times and The Seattle Post Intelligencer report today that Fosamax©, a medication to treat osteoporosis, appears to double a woman’s chance of having atrial fibrillation, a sometimes serious heart condition.

Fosamax© is manufactured by Merck & Co. A generic version, alendronate, was approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 2008. Fosamax© has also been linked to another serious condition, osteoncrosis of the jaw, also known as jaw necrosis or jaw death. Osteonecrosis can cause parts of the jawbone to deteriorate, causing an extremely painful condition that can lead to jaw removal.

The Seattle, Washington study which was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine was done by Group Health in Seattle and the University of Washington. The study, which followed 719 women with atrial fibrillation, compared them with 966 women who did not have the condition. The study found that the women who had taken Fosamax©, had an 86% higher incidence of the condition.

fosamax linked to heart problems
Atrial fibrillation can result in irregular heartbeats (heart palpitations), shortness of breath, fatigue, blood clots which can cause strokes, and congestive heart failure.

Dr. Philip Mease, an osteoporosis expert at Swedish Medical Center who was not involved in the study, cautions women not to suddenly discontinue the medication. The Group Health study said, “it is important to carefully weigh the benefits against the possible risk of atrial fibrillation in women who have only modestly increased fracture risk and in women who have risk factors for atrial fibrillation, such as diabetes, mellitus, coronary disease or heart failure.”

Osteoporosis is a condition that strikes women far more often than men, affecting 25 million Americans a year. It causes bone loss and when the bones become weak and thin they can easily break.

If you or a loved one has experienced any serious side effects after using Fosamax© such as atrial fibrillation or osteonocrosis, you need to contact a personal injury attorney to ensure that your rights are protected. The Farber Law Group has more than 30 years experience of representing people with serious personal injury and malpractice. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.