A drug for the treatment of osteoporosis dramatically reduced the risk of spine and hip fractures by almost half and the risk of other painful fractures by 30 percent among women with osteoporosis, according to a study by University of California San Francisco researchers.
The drug, called alendronate, is a bisphosphonate that binds to bones and protects against bone loss. During a four-year study of 4432 postmenopausal women, 2214 participants received alendronate. New results from the study, part of the landmark Fracture Intervention Trial (FIT), are published in the December 23 issue of the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA).
"Our study demonstrates that women who are concerned about osteoporosis or are over 60 or 65 years of age should have a bone density test so that they can be proactive about bone fracture prevention," said Steven R. Cummings, MD, UCSF professor of medicine and epidemiology and lead author of the study. "Women who do test positive for osteoporosis are at a very high risk of suffering a fracture, and should talk with their doctors about alendronate or other therapy for osteoporosis."
FIT, which included 6,000 patients, had two arms: the Vertebral Fracture Arm, which was previously reported at the 1997 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research Meeting and that included women who had a spinal fracture, and the Clinical Fracture Arm, which is the subject of this current study being reported in JAMA and that included women without spinal fractures.
Because 10 to 15 percent of postmenopausal women have spinal fractures, UCSF
researchers aimed to determine in this Clinical Fracture Arm of the study
whether four years of treatment with alendronate would reduce the risk of
fractures in the large number of postmenopausal women who have a low bone
mineral density (BMD), and therefore thin bones, but no spinal fractures.
Cummings reported that the effect of alendronate on fractures depended on a
woman's initial hip
Contact: Abby Sinnott
University of California - San Francisco