Quoted from http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/medical/story/2011/05/Bones-Experts-rethink-long-term-use-of-drugs/47126182/1
Bones: Experts rethink long-term use of drugs
Bone experts are rethinking the way they treat osteoporosis now that research has linked widely prescribed drugs to rare but serious leg fractures.
File photo by Brian Branch-Price, AP
Bisphosphonates, such as Fosamax, are among top-selling drugs for osteoporosis.
By Janice Lloyd, USA TODAY
May 13, 2011
Bisphosphonates, a class of drugs that are highly beneficial in reducing bone fractures in people with osteoporosis, the experts say, should not be prescribed to patients who don't have the disease but are at risk of developing it, as often has been the practice in recent years.
And osteoporosis patients should talk to their doctors about taking a "holiday" from the drugs after two or three years on the medications, says Ken Lyles, director of geriatrics research at Duke University. The drugs can be taken intermittently after several years, he says.
"This is a change, absolutely," says Lyles, a member of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research. "I look at it as a positive thing. We're learning more. We have good drugs, but we need to know how to use them correctly."...
Bisphosphonates (Fosamax, Reclast, Actonel, Boniva) are among the top-selling drugs in the country. Annual sales exceed $3.5 billion, according to IMS Health, a research firm that tracks prescriptions. The Food and Drug Administration in November warned about potential risks of atypical femur fractures when taking the drugs, and a Swedish study last week in The New England Journal of Medicine called for "intermittent use" because of a reduced risk of fracture after taking a break from the drugs.