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      Legal liability in bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw

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          Abstract

          Bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (BRONJ) is an adverse reaction that may occur in patients administered with bisphosphonates (BP). This condition can cause high morbidity and hinder quality of life. Its treatment is complex and often unsatisfactory, and prevention strategies may have limited effectiveness, if any. Thus, managing patients treated with BP may result in exposure of the practitioner to legal liability or malpractice claims: legal actions pursuant to BRONJ are reported to be underway on three continents. Nonetheless, the attribution of liability, if any, is a complex process requiring, on the basis of current knowledge, a robust and pragmatic approach to the facts, which must be identified from the point of view of the time, place and individuals involved. This means a comprehensive consideration of the sequence of actions from bisphosphonates prescription to BRONJ occurrence (as well as immediately after, and any action potentially related to its causation or worsening) is required in order to determine if a breach in informing, diagnosing, managing or referring the patient took place, as well as determining if the patient was compliant in attending to prescriptions and follow-up programmes.

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          Most cited references39

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          Osteonecrosis of the jaws associated with the use of bisphosphonates: a review of 63 cases

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            Osteonecrosis of the jaw in multiple myeloma patients: clinical features and risk factors.

            To describe the clinical, radiologic, and pathologic features and risk factors for osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) in multiple myeloma (MM) patients. A retrospective review of 90 MM patients who had dental assessments, including 22 patients with ONJ. There were 62 men; the median age was 61 years in ONJ patients and 58 years among the rest. Prior MM therapy included thalidomide (n = 67) and stem-cell transplantation (n = 72). Bisphosphonate therapy included zoledronate (n = 34) or pamidronate (n = 17) and pamidronate followed by zoledronate (n = 33). Twenty-seven patients had recent dental extraction, including 12 patients in the ONJ group. Median time from MM diagnosis to ONJ was 8.4 years for the whole group. Patients usually presented with pain. ONJ occurred posterior to the cuspids (n = 20) mostly in the mandible. Debridement and sequestrectomy with primary closure were performed in 14 patients; of these, four patients had major infections and four patients had recurrent ONJ. Bone histology revealed necrosis and osteomyelitis. Microbiology showed actinomycetes (n = 7) and mixed bacteria (n = 9). More than a third of ONJ patients also suffered from long bone fractures (n = 4) and/or avascular necrosis of the hip (n = 4). The variables predictive of developing ONJ were dental extraction (P = .009), treatment with pamidronate/zoledronate (P = .009), longer follow-up time (P = .03), and older age at diagnosis of MM (P = .006). ONJ appears to be time-dependent with higher risk after long-term use of bisphosphonates in older MM patients often after dental extractions. No satisfactory therapy is currently available. Trials addressing the benefits/risks of continuing bisphosphonate therapy are needed.
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              Benefits and risks of bisphosphonate therapy for osteoporosis.

              There has been considerable concern recently in the scientific and lay media regarding the benefits vs. the risks of bisphosphonates for the treatment of osteoporosis. Risks include possible associations with osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) and atypical femur fractures. In this perspective, we review the use of bisphosphonates for the treatment of osteoporosis, including an objective assessment of the risks vs. the benefits of these drugs. Authors' knowledge of the field and results of focused literature searches are presented. Bisphosphonates have proven efficacy in the prevention of bone loss and in the reduction of fractures in postmenopausal women and men with established osteoporosis. Although bisphosphonates, at doses used to treat osteoporosis, may be associated with an increased risk of ONJ and atypical femur fractures, many more fractures are prevented by the use of these drugs compared to the relatively low risk of these complications. Although oral bisphosphonates are associated with upper gastrointestinal side effects and iv bisphosphonates with acute phase reactions, the association of bisphosphonate use with esophageal cancer and atrial fibrillation is not well supported by current data. Bisphosphonates have been proven to prevent fractures in patients with established osteoporosis or those who are at high risk of fracture. In contrast, the incidence of major complications associated with bisphosphonate use, such as ONJ and atypical femur fractures, is very low.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                British Dental Journal
                Br Dent J
                Springer Nature America, Inc
                0007-0610
                1476-5373
                September 2014
                September 26 2014
                September 2014
                : 217
                : 6
                : 273-278
                Article
                10.1038/sj.bdj.2014.806
                25256983
                b037b3c5-5ca1-4e56-b14c-262928c4a7ee
                © 2014

                http://www.springer.com/tdm


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