On May 9, 2012 the FDA’s review of bisphosphonate drugs was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The information included in the FDA review is not new, but it may have a significant effect on the length of time women take drugs such as Fosamax to treat osteoporosis or osteopenia. The FDA review found that there is little, if any, benefit to taking these drugs for longer than 3 -5 years. Not only is there no clear benefit to taking the drugs after 3-5 years, but there may also be significant risks of Fosamax femur fractures. Specifically, continued use of the drug may actually lead to weaker bones and to conditions such as fractured femurs and osteonecrosis of the jaw.
Despite its findings, the FDA did not issue specific time limits beyond which all women should not take bisphosphonate drugs. Instead, the FDA is encouraging women and their health care providers to weigh the risks, benefits, and preferences for each individual patient.
An accompanying article in the same issue of the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that only women with very low bone density should continue treatment beyond three to five years.
If you currently take Fosamax, Boniva, or a similar drug then it is important to talk to your doctor about your treatment plan.