The study on alendronate was led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The research also showed that women at very high risk of painful spine fractures might be better-off continuing treatment.
"This has important implications as it has not been known whether treatment of osteoporosis should be continued indefinitely," said lead author Dennis Black, PhD, professor in the UCSF Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. "Because women with osteoporosis, particularly older post-menopausal women, often need to take multiple drugs, this would be welcome news for this group."
"We found that women who discontinued the drug had the same rate of non-spine fractures as women who continued using the drug," he said. "However, for clinically-recognized spine fractures, usually discovered due to back pain, continuing alendronate was better than discontinuing. And, if women choose to continue, we showed that 10 years of treatment is safe." Alendronate is used to reduce bone loss, increase bone density and reduce the risk of spine, wrist and hip fractures in postmenopausal women. Bisphosphonates are the most commonly used treatment for postmenopausal osteoporosis.
The study found differences in bone loss in those who continued versus those who stopped but the differences were surprisingly modest and there were no differences in rates of non-spine fractures or in spine fractures as assessed by comparison of spine x-rays. While the results suggest discontinuation of the treatment for some women, women at a very high risk of clinical spine fractures may benefit by continuing beyond five years, according to Black.
MEDICA.de; Quelle: University of California - San Francisco