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Bone Drugs Not Linked to Rare Fractures
Date:5/12/2010

Small study did not find significant effect with use of bisphosphonates

WEDNESDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) -- A new study finds no association between the use of a popular class of osteoporosis medications known as bisphosphonates and an unusual type of thigh bone fracture.

Bisphosphonates include blockbuster drugs such as alendronate (Fosamax), risedronate (Actonel) and ibandronate (Boniva).

The conclusions, appearing as a letter-to-the-editor in the May 13 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, do little to settle an ongoing debate about whether or not these drugs cause this type of rare fracture.

A pharmaceutical-company sponsored study published in March in the same journal concluded that bisphosphonates did not boost people's risk for this type of fracture, although prior studies had suggested they did.

That "very large study," said Dr. Kenneth A. Egol, chief of the Orthopaedic Trauma Service at New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases, "certainly can allay some fears regarding the drug."

And the current study, which is much smaller, should not raise fears or affect how bisphosphonates are used, experts said.

"We believe these are good drugs in the right patient, and there's no reason they should not be used," Egol said.

"We cannot conclude that there's major enough of a side effect that we should be telling patients not to take the medications, and that's consistent with what the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] is saying," agreed Yuen Ting (Cathy) Lau, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy in Houston. "There's no conclusive evidence saying that atypical bone fractures are associated with bisphosphonates and, given the benefits, patients should not stop taking them just because of this concern."

Having said that, Egol did point out that "those who tak
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