Osteoporosis drug also linked to bone pain and irregular heartbeats in past research,,,,
WEDNESDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- In the latest research to cast a shadow on the safety of a popular bone-strengthening medication, researchers report that long-term use of Fosamax is associated with unusual fractures of the thigh bone.
The fractures were low-energy fractures, meaning that they all occurred from a fall from standing height or less, and the bone cracks were in an unusual horizontal pattern. About one-third of women with these types of fractures were on long-term therapy to prevent osteoporosis, the researchers noted. Of these women, two-thirds were taking Fosamax (alendronate), for an average of more than seven years.
Fosamax is a bisphosphonate, a class of drugs used to increase bone mass and reduce the risk of fracture in those who have osteoporosis.
"These were peculiar fractures that would occur when the women were basically doing nothing," said the study's senior author, Dr. Joseph Lane, chief of metabolic bone disease at the Hospital for Special Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
Fifteen women were included in Lane's analysis. The average time on Fosamax was 5.4 years before they experienced the unusual femur fracture. Of these 15, 10 women had similar, atypical fractures. These women had been taking Fosamax for an average of 7.3 years, while the remaining five had only been on the drug for an average of 2.8 years.
"Our results provide further evidence of a potential link between alendronate use and low-energy fractures of the femur," the authors said in a letter reporting their findings, which is published in the March 20 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. But, the authors acknowledge the limitations of their retrospective analysis and suggest that these findings need to be confirmed in a prospective study.
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