In addition, compared with placebo, men receiving Reclast had fewer moderate-to-severe vertebral fractures, or other forms of fractures. These men also had higher bone mineral density -- a key measure of fracture risk.
There are some risks associated with these drugs, Recker stressed. "In rare cases there are atypical fractures of the femur," he said. "But for every one of these fractures that occurs, there are between 50 and 100 fractures prevented."
Reclast has been approved for use in cancer patients when cancer has spread to the patient's bones. The doses used in cancer patients, however, are far greater than used for patients in this study, Recker noted.
The research team wrote that, "although our findings with zoledronic acid [Reclast] do not imply that all data on drugs for osteoporosis in women can be extrapolated to men, our study should provide the confidence to proceed."
Other bisphosphonates include Actonel, Boniva, Zometa and Fosamax.
Dr. Joseph Lane is chief of the metabolic bone disease service at the Hospital for Special Surgery and a professor of orthopedic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. He said that, "up to this point, bisphosphonates have been approved for use in men, but they have not demonstrated fracture protection, because the numbers were too small and the fracture rates were too small."
"What's exciting about this study is it demonstrates, essentially, the same fracture protection that is seen in women," he said.
If this finding is true for Reclast, it's likely true for all bisphosphonates, Lane added. "We can now feel more comfortable because we now have very strong proof that fracture protection is provided by Reclast," he said.
According to Novartis, costs for Reclast are covered by Medicare Part B. For those not on Medicare, the cost depends on individua
All rights reserved