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Anti-osteoporosis Drugs Could Result in Irregular Heart Rhythm, New Study

in the same issue of the medical journal.

This study of 7,736 postmenopausal women with bone-thinning osteoporosis focuses on Reclast. Novartis recently won approval to sell Reclast, known generically as zoledronic acid, for Paget's disease, another bone condition. The company hopes to get an OK later this year to sell it for osteoporosis use.

The new study, funded by Novartis, shows that Reclast works at least as well as existing drugs in the same class, researchers say. However, the risk of a serious case of irregular heart rhythm was more than double that in the other patients _ 50 cases in the drug-taking half, compared to 20 cases in the others.

Researchers cautioned about overestimating the importance of the heart rhythm problem. The Reclast study showed little apparent difference in overall cardiac deaths and the overall risk of the rhythm condition remained small.

Doctors made available by Merck and Novartis said the side effect could be a statistical fluke or just a product of aging. They said earlier studies showed no sign of the possible side effect.

For now, it's unknown if the possible risk applies to other drugs in the class known as biphosphonates. Future studies are expected to help clarify the risk.


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