The Food and Drug Administration is working hard to educate consumers about the risks and benefits of drugs meant to treat osteoporosis.
The drugs in question are part of a classification known as bisphosphonates. A variety of medications fall into this category, including Fosamax, Atelvia, Boniva, and Actonel.150 million prescriptions of these and another generic versions of the drugs have been given between 2005 and 2009 alone. Bisphosphonates work by way of attaching themselves to bones that are in the process of reforming, something that happens throughout our lifetime. Osteporosis takes place when constant disintegration, or resorption, outweighs the reforming, but the drugs help correct this.
Now, new research published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the benefits of these types of drugs can extend even after initial treatment has taken place. Three to five years might be all it takes for a patient to continue to reap the benefits after putting an end to taking the medication. Further research is still warranted, and it should go without saying that a healthcare provider should be consulted before any medication is ceased, especially by those with a history of fractures.
Should you and your doctor reach the decision that you no longer need to take the product, it’s still paramount that you’re careful. If new pain becomes apparent, consult your doctor at once, and should you be a bisphosphonate user who experiences other side effects, get in touch with MedWatch.
The FDA is still monitoring these drugs for potential association with decay of the jaw bone or cancer of the esophagus.