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Study links long-term use of osteoporosis drugs to unusual fractures
Date:2/22/2011

TORONTO, Ont., Feb, 23, 2011Women who take commonly prescribed drugs for osteoporosis known as bisphosphonates for five years or more may be at higher risk of certain kinds of fractures of their thigh bone, a new study has found.

However, the drugs do prevent hip fractures. And, since the overall risk of thigh bone fractures caused by the drugs is low, women at high risk for hip and other osteoporosis-related fractures should not stop taking bisphosphonates, according to researchers at St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

The study was published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Typical hip fractures caused by osteoporosis occur in the upper part of the femur close to the hip joint and are an important cause of disability, need for long-term care and even death in the elderly. The risk of these kinds of fractures is reduced by bisphosphonate treatment, which was confirmed by this study.

But the study found that less common fractures lower down from the hip and closer to the middle of the femur sometimes called "atypical" or "unusual" fractures -- occurred more than 2.5 times as often in women who had taken bisphosphonates for more than five years than short-term users of the drug..

"Prolonged use of bisphosphonates is associated with rare and unusual fractures of the femur," said the lead author, Laura Park-Wyllie, a pharmaceutical safety and outcomes researcher at St. Michael's. "But the proven benefit of these drugs for the much more common fractures of osteoporosis usually outweighs the harm, especially in the initial years of treatment for osteoporosis. Women with osteoporosis, at high risk for osteoporotic fractures, should not stop taking bisphosphonate therapy because of the small risk of these thigh fractures."

Park-Wyllie said the study was prompted by an increasing number of reports of thigh bone fractures among ol
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Contact: Leslie Shepherd
shepherdl@smh.ca
416-864-6094
St. Michael's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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