Thursday, May 10, 2007

Annual Osteoporosis Treatment On the Horizon?

tidbits that tantalize
Once A Year? Woohoo!

Move over Sally Field. The competition is about to run you right off the set and out of our living rooms.

You know the commercial. Sally bemoans the fate of her poor girlfriend, who has to "set aside time one morning every week" to take her osteoporosis medicine. It is a brutal world out there. Ms. Field then goes on to talk about the advantages of once-a-month dosing with Boniva. Of course, that was before...

Novartis developed Reclast, an osteoporosis medication that appears to be effective when administered once per year. Reclast is currently being used around the world to treat Paget's disease, a metabolic bone disease that causes abnormal growth and bone deformity. Now, studies indicate Reclast reduces the risk of bone fractures due to osteoporosis with a single yearly treatment.

The three-year study yielded impressive results mixed with questions about side effects. The patients treated with Reclast were 70% less likely to suffer a spine fracture and 41% less likely to experience a fracture of the hip. This compares to a 40% - 50% reduction for spine fractures in patients taking conventional oral medications.

The numbers look good and compliance is certainly much easier. Researchers report that patients fail to take oral osteoporosis medications about 20% of the time. So, a once a year option may be a terrific alternative.


The questions about potentially serious side effects still linger. In the study, 1-in-77 Reclast patients developed serious atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm that accelerates the heart rate, causes dizziness and fainting, and increases the chance of stroke. In addition, over 30% of patients experienced fever, joint and muscle pain, headache or flu-like symptoms. Hmm...

The jury, and the FDA, are still out.

In the meantime, word is that Ms. Field is revising her Boniva pitch. "My poor girlfriend," she is to say, "has to wait for One Whole Year before she gets the satisfaction of knowing she's taking good care of herself. Not me - I get to enjoy that special sense of accomplishment Every Single Month!" It almost makes one nostalgic for the simpler days, when television was in black and white, and nuns could fly...

To read more about the study, see this from Medical News Today, or this from Reuters. To read more about osteoporosis, see this from the National Osteoporosis Foundation.


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