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Experts Shift Stances on Long-term Bone Drug Use over Fosamax Side Effects

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Durham, NCA number of bone experts are re-considering their treatment of osteoporosis now that there has been significant research linking specific drugs to rare fracture risks, such as Fosamax femur fractures.

According to USA Today, experts now say that bisphosphonates—which reportedly help people with osteoporosis to avoid bone fractures— should not simply be prescribed to patients who may be at risk of developing the condition.

Additionally, Duke University's director of geriatrics research, Ken Lyles, told the news source that even osteoporosis patients should think about taking a break from the drugs after using them for an extended period of time.

Lyles added that the more research into the matter is a good thing, as it can help prevent the increased risks of femur fractures down the line.

"I look at it as a positive thing. We're learning more. We have good drugs, but we need to know how to use them correctly," he said.

According to the news source, Lyles and Harvard University professor Douglas Kiel recently delved into the topic of bisphosphonates at the annual conference of the American Geriatrics Society.

Such drugs, which include brand names such as Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva and Reclast, are some of the most popularly sold medications in the country, the news provider said. Research firm IMS Health reportedly estimates that annual sales of these medications are more than $3.5 billion.

While a number of studies have concluded that drugs such as Fosamax can have adverse effects on a person's bone health, new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests that the benefits of such medications may actually outweigh their risks.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Swedish study found that bisphosphonates cause approximately one broken femur per every 2,000 people using the drugs each year, which appeared to be a relatively low rate.

"It is encouraging to see this data for patients and physicians," said director of the UCLA Osteoporosis Center Dr. Aurelia Nattiv. "It presents one more piece of evidence from a large number of patients that these are good drugs with rare side effects."

The latest study reportedly examined every Swedish woman who was at least 55 years of age and suffered a femur fracture in 2008, according to the news source.


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