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New Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Painful Jaw Condition

Previous reports had indicated that the risk of developing osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) from taking bisphosphonates in pill form were "negligible".  However, a new study published in the January 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association suggests that the proportion of people taking these widely prescribed oral osteoporosis drugs who develop ONJ may be much higher than previously thought.ONJ is characterized by pain, soft-tissue swelling, infection, loose teeth and exposed bone.  Use of bisphosphonates has been associated with other problems in the past, including an increased risk of atrial fibrillation (a type of abnormal heart rhythm), unusual fractures of the thigh bone, and inflammatory eye disease.  Fosamax (alendronate) is the most widely prescribed oral bisphosphonate.