According to recent research from the Food and Drug Administration, bone strengthening drugs such as Fosamax, Boniva, Actonel and other bisphosphonates, which are used to treat osteopenia, osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and Paget’s disease, may have little long term benefit.
The findings suggest that taking the drugs for more than 3-5 years may not be helpful in preventing bone fractures in women. While the FDA stopped short of making recommendations about the long term use of these drugs, the findings could change the way doctors prescribe these medications to women with osteoporosis.
In October 2010, the FDA asked the manufacturers of bisphosphonates used to treat osteoporosis, including Fosamax and Boniva, to add information to the “Warnings and Precautions” section of the drugs’ labels describing the risk of atypical thigh fractures after a study linked long-term use of such drugs to this side effect.
Other side effects and complications associated with the use of the drugs include:
- Osteonecrosis of the jaw
- Femur fractures
- Esophageal cancer
- Severe musculoskeletal pain
- Atrial fibrillation