URMC Ortho Chair Addresses Bisphosphonates for Osteoporosis

Jan. 3, 2012

Regis J. O’Keefe, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the URMC Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, discusses concerns regarding the use of bisphosphonates for patients with osteoporosis. Click on the video above.

O’Keefe is part of an international task force advising the FDA on bisphosphonates and bone health.

Convened by the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR), the multidisciplinary panel reviewed 310 cases of atypical femur fractures and found that 94 percent (291) of patients had taken the drugs for more than five years. Task force investigators found a possible relationship between bisphosphonates and atypical subtrochanteric femur fractures in a very small segment of patients.

Millions of people have been treated with oral bisphosphonates since they were approved in 1995. They are commonly prescribed to prevent or treat osteoporosis in premenopausal women. Task force members stressed that these fractures represent less than 1 percent of hip and thigh fractures overall and are very uncommon. However, they called for additional product labeling, better tracking of patients experiencing these breaks and more research to determine whether and how these drugs cause this uncommon class of fractures. From these recommendations, the FDA issues its safety advisory.