Adherence to bisphosphonates 'reduces fracture risk'

Published on 04 January 2013
Adherence to bisphosphonates 'reduces fracture risk'

A new study has shown the importance of adhering to bisphosphonate treatment when prescribed these bone-strengthening drugs by a doctor.

Bisphosphonates are recommended for people who have suffered a fracture as a result of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, as they help to protect bone health and prevent further fractures.

Some patients do not like taking the drugs and do not adhere to their treatment regimen, with research published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research showing that more than 50 per cent of US pensioners with rheumatoid arthritis are guilty of non-adherence.

But a separate study, also published in Arthritis Care & Research, highlights the importance of adherence to bisphosphonates if people want to reduce their fracture risk.

Researchers at the University of Alabama, led by Dr Jeffrey Curtis, carried out a study to compare fracture risk among patients who were and were not adhering to their medication nine months after sustaining an osteoporosis-related fracture.

They looked at the records of 2,507 patients who started oral bisphosphonate therapy, as well as 2,420 patients using antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and 2,178 patients using cardiovascular drugs called ACE inhibitors or calcium channel blockers (CCBs).

Analysis revealed that people who adhered closely to their bisphosphonate regimes tended to benefit from a lower risk of hip and other major fractures.

High adherence to SSRIs was associated with a slight increase in fracture risk, while no link was seen between ACE inhibitor/CCB adherence and the risk of fractures.

A spokesman for Arthritis Research UK commented: "Many people with osteoporosis don't like taking bisphosphonates because they don't see an immediate effect and because, as they can cause side-effects such as indigestion and it is recommended that you remain upright for an hour after taking them, they can be inconvenient.

"However, if taking them means people suffer fewer further fractures as a result of taking bisphosphonates, it seems like a reasonable price to pay."