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Osteoporosis annual treatment

3rd May 2007

Research has shown an injection, administered once a year, decreases the risk of broken bones caused by osteoporosis in post-menopausal women.

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In comparison with a placebo pill, an infusion of Aclasta decreased the risk of broken hips by 41% and of spinal breaks by 70%.

Osteoporosis occurs more commonly with age. It affects the thickness and quality of bone and increases the risk of fractures. In the UK, osteoporosis causes 60,000 hip and 120,000 spinal breaks per year, figures which are increasing.

The international study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and participants included research teams from the University of Aberdeen. Aclasta is know in the US as Relcast and is currently under review for use to treat osteoporosis.

Professor David Reid, of the University of Aberdeen, headed a UK centre involved in the research. He said: "Preventing hip fractures remains the holy grail of treating osteoporosis, as we know that six months after a hip fracture nearly a fifth of patients will be dead.

"Reducing hip fractures by 41% is therefore highly clinically significant."

The researchers report that Aclasta, or zoledronic acid, could be another option to other bisphosphonate drugs, which are taken in capsule form either daily or weekly.

Side-effects of commonly prescribed osteoporosis drugs include inflammation of the oesophagus, which makes many patients stop taking the drugs. Aclasta is given by drip and takes only 15 minutes to administer. However, it was linked to increased heart rhythms.

Approximately 480,000 women are prescribed medication for osteoporosis in the UK. This figure is expected to rise as the population ages. Novartis, who manufacture Aclasta, is currently seeking a licence so the drug can be used by post-menopausal women in the UK.


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