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For millions of Fosamax users, 2009 was ushered in with concern. The January 1, 2009 issue of the respected New England Journal of Medicine informed Fosamax users, physicians and the public about a link between use of the Fosamax drug and esophageal cancer.
The New England Journal of Medicine report was written by an official at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The report indicates that from October 2005 - May 2008 there were 23 patients whose esophageal cancer was possibly linked to their prescribed use of Fosamax. Fosamax is an oral bisphosphonate drug that is used to treat millions of Americans with osteoporosis. While the link between other oral bisphosphonates and esophageal cancer was not definitively ruled out, the FDA official did claim that, "no similar U.S. reports for other oral bisphosphonates were retrieved from the FDA's database for adverse-event reporting." This seems to indicate that the risk is greater and the link to esophageal cancer is stronger for users of Fosamax than for patients who take other bisphosphonates to treat osteoporosis.
Diane Wysowski, who authored the report for the FDA, indicates that it is unclear whether the Fosamax drug itself causes cancer of the esophagus or whether the disease is brought on because patients are not taking the drug according to the prescribed directions or because patients have a preexisting condition that would make esophageal cancer more likely to develop. Any of these three causes can create a painful and life threatening disease in a Fosamax patient and all three potential causes should be considered by doctors who prescribe this medication.
The Medical Future
Patients who are taking Fosamax should speak to their doctors about whether they should continue taking Fosamax. Depending on the individual's risk factors, the doctor may decide to use a different kind of oral bisphosphonate to treat the patient's osteoporosis.
Patients should also seek immediate medical attention if they have any of the symptoms of esophageal cancer such as painful swallowing, significant weight loss, throat pain, a chronic cough or a cough that produces blood. As with all cancers, treatment at any early stage of the disease increases the patient's likelihood of survival.
The Legal Future
A disease like cancer brings with it enormous amounts of physical suffering, emotional pain and financial expenses. If the cancer was caused by a drug then the patient or his or her family should seek the assistance of qualified Fosamax lawyer who can help the family understand their rights and recover for their losses.
While the incidence of esophageal cancer may not be very high, the impact for the patients who develop cancer and for their families is profound. Therefore, it makes sense for Fosamax users to think about their medical and legal options as they digest the new study and plan for their future. Fosamax users should know that alternative medical options are available and that they have the legal right to consult an attorney about a Fosamax Lawsuit if they suffer from a Fosamax injury. So, while the New Years news regarding Fosamax was grim, it was not a sentence to an unhappy or an unhealthy 2009.