Drug Reduces Fractures
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A drug for women with osteoporosis appears to be effective in reducing the risk for a vertebral fracture, according to new research. The study reports the drug strontium ranelate can reduce the risk of breaking a bone in the vertebral column by 49 percent.
Vertebral fractures are a serious consequence of osteoporosis. Such a break can lead to acute and chronic back pain, spinal deformity and hip fracture. An early study found strontium ranelate reduces the risk of vertebral fractures and increases bone mineral density. This happens because the drug, taken orally, increases bone formation and decreases bone resorption. Researchers in France conducted a larger study to compare the drug to placebo in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.
The study included 1,649 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis and who suffered at least one vertebral fracture. The women received either the drug strontium ranelate or a placebo daily for three years. Participants were also given calcium and vitamin D supplements. Vertebral radiographs were done each year and measurements of bone mineral density were performed every six months.
Researchers report new vertebral fractures occurred in fewer patients in the strontium ranelate group than in the placebo group. Specifically, patients on the drug had 49-percent reduced risk in the first year of treatment and a 41-percent reduction during the three-year study. Study authors also report at the end of the study the women on the drug had an increase in their bone mineral density including a 14.4 percent increase at the lumbar spine and 8.3 percent at the femoral neck.
Investigators conclude strontium ranelate given orally each day appears to reduce the risk of vertebral fractures rapidly, effectively and safely among postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.
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SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine, 2004;350:459-468