NEW HYDE PARK, NY -- May 30, 2004. Doctors at Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Medical Center recently discovered a link between a common chemotherapy drug and a serious bone disease called osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ).

The discovery, published in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, prompted both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Novartis, the manufacturer of bisphosphonates used in cancer chemotherapy, to issue warnings earlier this fall to physicians and dentists about the risk for this potential adverse effect.

ONJ is a condition in which the bone tissue in the jaw fails to heal after minor trauma such as a tooth extraction, causing the bone to be exposed. The exposure can eventually lead to infection and fracture and may require long-term antibiotic therapy or surgery to remove the dying bone tissue.

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