Recent concern has emerged about prolonged use of a common osteoporosis drug type called bisphosphonates. These drugs, which include Fosamax, Actonel, and Boniva, have recently been associated with an unusual type of femur fracture, seen in patients who take these drugs for more than 7 years.
Because of these atypical femur fractures, new recommendations have emerged for those considering bisphosphonates:
- Patients being considered for bisphosphonate should be evaluated with a bone density test
- Other risk factors for osteoporosis should also be considered in addition to bone density
- Those on bisphosphonates should consider a "drug holiday" after 5 years of treatment
- Before restarting treatment after a drug holiday, risk factors for osteoporosis should be re-evaluated.
The bottom line is that the benefit of bisphosphonates in prevention of broken bones can be significant. Ensuring that you are taking the medication for the right reasons can help prevent possible side-effects of these drugs.
Sources: Revisiting Bone Drugs and Femur Fractures New York Times. March 6, 2011