Study Finds Commonly Used Drug Therapy to be Worse Than No Treatment at All

In addition to the normal aging process, bone loss associated with osteoporosis may also result from a condition called hyperparathyroidism, in which the parathyroid glands release an excessive amount of a hormone that regulates the body’s calcium levels. A new study conducted at University of California, Los Angeles reports that the most widely used treatment for hyperparathyroidism, a class of medications called bisphosphonates that include brand names Fosamax® and Boniva®, may increase the risk of fracture. The study also found that patients who underwent surgical removal of overactive parathyroid glands had fewer subsequent bone fractures, making it a preferred option for treating hyperparathyroidism and associated osteoporosis. The study is published this month in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Michael Yeh, MD, lead author of the study remarked, “Before this study, there was no data that compared parathyroid surgery with prescribing medication on the risk for fractures in people with hyperparathyroidism.” Dr. Yeh noted that hyperparathyroidism affects some 400,000 Americans, and osteoporotic fracture, especially of the hip, results in significant disability, mortality, and reduced quality of life. In what he termed “startling” results, the study of 6,000 people with hyperparathyroidism found that those treated with bisphosphonates suffered hip fracture at the rate of 86 per 1000. Those who had parathyroid surgery reported 20 fractures per 1000, and those who were not treated at all recorded 56 fractures per 1000. “We were unable to demonstrate any benefit associated with this class of drugs, which have been around and routinely prescribed for more than 20 years,” he said.

Read more about osteoporosis, here.

Read a news story about the study findings here.

The journal abstract may be read here.




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