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"Study adds evidence that bone drugs work, are safe"


Source: CTV.CA

Published: 24 Mar 2022

Category: Pharmaceutical

Rating: (3 stars)

Keywords: osteoporosis bone fosamax reclast fracture risk

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

A new study gives reassuring news about the safety of Fosamax and Reclast, bone-building drugs taken by millions of American women. It found that long-term use does not significantly raise the risk of a rare type of fracture near the hip...

The original article can be found at:

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 6 of 10
Availability of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Not Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

This is a decent report on what appears to be a marketing study designed to fend off arguments that osteoporosis drugs do not increase the risk of fractures. While the report was generally well done, a few important elements were missing.

There have been numerous reports and studies looking at the increased risk of specific bone fractures with bisphosphonates and it would have been useful to have reflected this in the report. It is important to recognize that the benefits of these drugs are extremely modest--maybe a 1% reduction in hip fractures over three years or a less than 10% reduction in vertebral fractures (many which the patient doesn't even feel).

In addition to knowing the modest benefits of these drugs, the main thing that consumers need to know, is that the drugs are not benign. In fact, bisphosphonates are associated side effects such as throat or chest pain, difficulty swallowing, and heartburn. Additional rare but serious adverse effects associated with these drugs include abnormal heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation), incapacitating bone/joint/muscle pain and bone loss in the jaw (osteonecrosis).

This study was likely designed by the marketers and subsequently presented as evidence of safety. Although the report was satisfactory, consumers deserve better quality studies especially around issues of patient safety.

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