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The Wall Street Journal has reported that an advisory panel of the Food and Drug Administration will convene in September to examine the safety of drugs used to treat osteoporosis including Fosamax, manufactured by Merck & Company. Bisphosphonates such as Fosamax have been linked to osteonecrosis of the jaw. More recent studies link long term use to femur fractures.

Last year, the FDA strengthened warning labels on the drugs and said doctors should periodically evaluate the need for continued bisphosphonate therapy for patients who have been on the drugs for longer than five years.

Bisphosphonates, used by about 5 million Americans, have been shown to increase bone mass and stop or slow the progression of osteoporosis. There have been at least 300 reports of atypical femur fractures, a rare type, in patients taking the drugs, often for longer than five years.

The number of lawsuits commenced by users of Fosamax and other bisphosphonates used to treat osteaoporosis continue to rise as new studies are released.

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