Bisphosphonates and Skeletal Microdamage

Something your doctor probably doesn't mention when prescribing bisphosphonates such as Fosamax and Boniva is the skeletal microdamage that can occur in your bones during treatment.

Something your doctor probably doesn't mention when prescribing bisphosphonates such as Fosamax and Boniva is the skeletal microdamage that can occur in your bones during treatment. Skeletal microdamage is microcracks in the bone. Because of this, many researchers have wondered about the longterm safety of bisphosphonate therapy.

A new study says that most of the microdamage happens in the first year of treatment.

Researchers found there was no increase in vertebral microcracks after 3 years of alendronate treatment in comparison to the beagles treated for 1 year. These results suggest that microcrack accumulation is greatest during the early course of alendronate treatment. This is an encouraging sign for long-term safety of these drugs.

The study authors are Dr. Matt R. Allen and Dr. David B. Burr from the Indiana University School of Medicine. Both doctors have received financial support from Eli Lilly, Procter & Gamble, Merck, and Amgen. Dr. Burr holds stock in Pfizer and Amgen and has been a consultant for Eli Lilly, Procter & Gamble, and Amgen.

Now let me get this straight: a drug that is supposed to prevent fractures actually causes fractures the first year of treatment, but it's okay because most of the microdamage only happens during the first year of treatment? This same class of drugs that is also associated with rotting of the jaw and severe bone pain? And we're supposed to accept that these drugs are safe from the mouths of researchers who are paid by the drug companies that sell them and who hold stock in some of the companies?

Think of it this way: thousands of postmenopausal women are given bisphosphonates as a preventative measure, even when their bone density tests are normal. That means people with perfectly normal skeletons are now going to have microcracks in their skeletons. It's really unbelievable.

For more information on the bisphosphonate controversy, check out our bisphosphonate timeline or the fosamax side effects page.

Skeletal Microdamage Stable After First Year, Study Shows

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