Q: What is Zometa?
A: Zometa (zoledronic acid) is used to treat hypercalcemia (excess calcium in the blood) that may occur with some types of cancer. It is also used to treat multiple myeloma (tumors formed by the cells of the bone marrow), as well as to treat bone metastasis (spread of cancer).
Zometa is an intravenous bisphosphonate drug made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2001 for treating hypercalcemia, and in 2002 for treatment of bone metastasis.
Q: Has there been any recent news about Zometa?
A: In September 2004, Novartis Pharmaceuticals and the FDA notified dental healthcare professionals of revisions to prescribing information to describe the occurrence of osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) observed in cancer patients receiving treatment with intravenous bisphosphonates (such as Zometa). The revised prescribing information recommends that cancer patients receive a dental examination prior to starting bisphosphonate treatment, and that they avoid invasive dental procedures while on these medications.
Q: What is Osteonecrosis of the Jaw?
A: Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ), or 'jaw death,' is a medical condition in which the jawbone partially crumbles and dies. ONJ may cause severe pain, loose teeth, exposed bone, loss of function, and disfigurement.
Q: Are there any special instructions for taking Zometa?
A: Because Zometa is only administered intravenously, it should only be administered by or under the supervision of your doctor or healthcare professional. Make sure to combine your treatment with regular visits to your healthcare professional, and to follow your healthcare professional's orders regarding Zometa dosing.
Q: What are the side effects associated with Zometa?
A: Zometa may cause side effects. Tell your healthcare professional if any of these symptoms are severe or persistent: redness or swelling in the place where you received your injection; red, swollen, or teary eyes; constipation; upset stomach; vomiting; diarrhea; stomach pain; loss of appetite; weight loss; heartburn; difficulty swallowing; mouth sores; pain anywhere in the body; excessive worry; agitation; difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep; white patches in the mouth; swelling, redness, irritation, burning, or itching of the vagina; white vaginal discharge; or hair loss.
Some side effects can be serious. The following symptoms are uncommon, but if you experience any of them, call your healthcare professional immediately: fever, chills, and other signs of infection; bone, joint, or muscle pain, and other flu-like symptoms; rash; itching; chest pain; coughing; weakness; muscle cramps; fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat; dizziness; depression; difficulty walking; seizures; confusion; leg swelling; shortness of breath; sudden tightening of muscles; numbness, burning, or tingling in fingers or toes; dry mouth; decreased urination; sunken eyes; sluggishness; headache; pale skin; unusual bruising or bleeding; frequent urination, especially at night; excessive thirst; hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist); muscle weakness; double vision; difficulty speaking; or jaw or mouth pain.
Q: What should I tell my healthcare professional before he or she prescribes Zometa?
A: You should tell your healthcare professional if you have or had any unusual allergic reaction to Zometa or other medications used to treat a high blood calcium or osteoporosis; if you are allergic to any other substances (foods, preservatives, or dyes); are or may be pregnant, are planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding; have asthma; have heart disease; have kidney disease; have cancer or are undergoing cancer treatment; are planning to have dental procedures or surgery while receiving Zometa treatment; have poor dental hygiene; experience dehydration; have liver problems.
Q: Are there any interactions between Zometa and other drugs or foods?
A: Zometa and certain other medicines can interact with each other. Tell your healthcare professional about all the medicines you take - including prescription and non-prescription medicines.
Q: What should I do if I think I've been injured as a result of taking Zometa?
A: If you or a loved one has experienced any dangerous symptoms or unusual medical conditions while taking Zometa, you should first contact your doctor or other healthcare professional. You may also wish to meet with an experienced product liability attorney to discuss your options and to protect your right to a legal remedy for any injuries caused by Zometa use. Under product liability law, pharmaceutical drug companies can be held liable for injuries caused by their products.