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New Study Refutes Bone Drugs' Link to Fractures
Date:3/24/2010

Benefits of Boniva, Fosamax and Reclast far outweigh any risk, experts say

WEDNESDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) -- New research concludes that widely used osteoporosis drugs called bisphosphonates do not boost women's risk for an unusual type of femur or thigh fracture -- something prior studies had suggested.

Bisphosphonates include blockbuster medications such as Boniva (ibandronate), Fosamax (alendronate) and Reclast (zoledronic acid).

Among women using these drugs, "the rate [of this type of fracture] was really low, overall about 2.3 per 10,000 person-years in women with osteoporosis," said the study's lead author, Dennis M. Black, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.

The study, which is published in the March 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, was funded by the pharmaceutical companies Novartis and Merck, which both make bisphosphonates. Study authors also reported ties with various drug makers.

Black said he couldn't rule out that the medications might cause this type of injury. But, even so, he said, the value of taking them would still exceed any risks.

"The risk-benefit is still very much in favor of using these drugs for a woman who has osteoporosis," he said. "This is not an epidemic. It's still uncommon."

J. Edward Puzas, a professor of orthopedics and director of orthopedic research at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, took a similar stance. "There is absolutely no reason and no evidence to stop this medication based on the fact of these unusual fractures," he said.

"The chance of breaking a bone because of osteoporosis and all the subsequent consequences are so much more severe than these rare instances of a fracture that we don't even know are caused by bisphosphonates," Puzas said. "People should not discontinue this medication based on what we're talking abo
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