MAR 23, 2019 07:37 PM PDT

Bisphosphonates increasingly prescribed to the women most likely to benefit

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Recently, there has been a trend in the age of women who have been prescribed bisphosphonates (BPs) for the treatment osteoporosis and the prevention of fracture. Now, a recent study has investigated the characteristics of women who were placed on BP therapy changed over a recent 12-year period.

"Bisphosphonate drugs have been first-line therapy for osteoporosis and fracture prevention for more than 20 years; however, osteoporosis care has changed over the past decade. Instead of treating younger, healthier women at low risk for fracture, the medical community now focuses on treating older women and those with bone density and other factors that indicate high risk for future fracture," said senior study author Joan Lo, M.D., of Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research in Oakland, Calif.

According to a study funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), women who were placed on BP treatment, the percentage with osteopenia declined while the percentage with osteoporosis at the time of starting treatment rose. The study included 28,495 female participants ranging from ages 50 to 79 years, who were placed oral BP therapy between 2002 and 2013 and underwent a bone mineral density (BMD) test within the past two years. The participants were also selected to not have any fracture history (except for head, fingers, or toes), and no indications of advanced kidney disease or metastatic cancer.

"These findings reflect the success of regional initiatives targeting these potent therapies to those who will benefit the most. In response to national guidelines and quality metrics introduced in 2008, we are doing a better job of giving more appropriate drug treatment to women who are most likely to benefit while avoiding excess treatment of women at low risk for fracture," she said. "Approximately 13 percent to 15 percent of older women in the health plan were Asian compared to 27 percent of our study population, which suggests that Asians may be more likely to begin bisphosphonate treatment for primary prevention.”

Learn more about BPs:

Source: Endocrine Society

About the Author
  • Nouran enjoys writing on various topics including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
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