Medicines to Prevent Osteoporosis Fractures Were Effective

Bisphosphonates denosumab and teriparatide may decrease fracture risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The risk of broken bones increases with age and is a major cause of disability and death in older people. But some treatments may prevent bone fractures.

A recent study found that treatment with bisphosphonates, denosumab or teriparatide reduced fractures of the spine and other bones.

"Ask your primary care doctor about how to prevent fractures."

Osteoporosis, a condition where bones are weaker and less dense, leaves people at risk for broken bones. Older people, smokers and women are prone to the disease.

A new review by Carolyn Crandall, MD, professor of medicine at UCLA, and colleagues looked at 294 studies that compared the effectiveness of several medicines used to prevent bone fractures in people with low bone density, such as patients with osteoporosis.

The studies showed that bisphosphonates (brand names Actonel, Fosamax, Zometa and Boniva), denosumab (brand name Prolia) and teriparatide (brand name Forteo) reduced the risk of spine fractures by 40 to 60 percent — compared to people who did not take the medicines.

Those who took the medicines were 20 to 40 percent less likely to break other bones.

The treatments had some side effects. Patients who took bisphosphonates had an increased risk of unusual thigh bone fractures, for instance. Injected bisphosphonates were associated with an increased risk of breaking the jaw bone.

The review authors stressed, however, that the risk for hip fracture among untreated patients with low bone density was much higher than the risk of bone fractures from treatment.

Heike Bischoff-Ferrari, MD, DrPH, and Otto Meyer, MD, wrote an editorial about the study.

Because of the low number of very old people studied, “The findings may not apply to patients aged 75 years or older, and especially not to those aged 80 years or older with non-skeletal risk factors for falls," the editorial authors wrote.

The research and editorial were published online Sept. 8 in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality funded the study. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 7, 2014
Last Updated:
September 9, 2014