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Many Osteoporosis Medications Prevent Fractures, But None Is Proven Best
Date:12/17/2007

ROCKVILLE, Md., Dec. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Many medications reduce the risk of bone fractures in people with osteoporosis, but the most commonly used drugs - bisphosphonates- have not been proven more effective than alternatives, according to a new report funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The AHRQ report compared the effectiveness and risks of six bisphosphonates: alendronate (sold as Fosamax), etidronate (Didronel), ibandronate (Boniva), pamidronate (Aredia), risedronate (Actonel) and zoledronic acid (Zometa). The report also looked at estrogen, calcitonin (a man-made hormone), calcium, vitamin D, testosterone, parathyroid hormone and selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs).

Not enough scientific evidence exists to establish whether bisphosphonates are better at preventing fractures than estrogen, calcitonin or raloxifene, according to the report. Some agents, however, such as estrogen and raloxifene (a SERM), can have serious side effects such as strokes, blood clots in the lungs or bleeding in the uterus.

The effectiveness of calcium and vitamin D, meanwhile, may vary according to dosing, how often they are taken and whether the patient taking them is at high risk for a fracture. There is limited evidence to compare the supplements with other therapies for preventing fractures.

The report also found that many osteoporosis patients stop taking their medications as prescribed. Some stop because they experience no osteoporosis symptoms. Others stop because of medication side effects or because dosing is too frequent. This finding was also true for supplements such as calcium. Not taking medications as prescribed increases the chances of bone fractures. Patients who take bisphosphonates in weekly formulations, rather than daily, are more likely to follow prescriptions. An article based on the report will be posted Monday o
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SOURCE Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality
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