Most osteoporosis medications are safe, effective

Study: Commonly prescribed meds can reduce fracture risk as much as 80%


One in two postmenopausal women and one in five older men are at risk for an osteoporosis-related fracture. And a new study finds a majority of medications prescribed for the disorder are both safe and effective.

"It's heartening to know that these drugs work. They're effective. They both decrease fracture and increase the bone density and they also, are really, generally quite safe," said Dr. Abby Abelson, who treats osteoporosis patients at Cleveland Clinic.

UCLA researchers reviewed nearly 300 studies done on the effectiveness and side-effects of osteoporosis medications.  Results show the most commonly prescribed osteoporosis medications reduced the risk of fractures, including hip and spine, by as much as 80%. Researchers also consider side-effects from these medications rare.

Abelson agrees that the benefits do outweigh the risks and encourages anyone who is at risk for osteoporosis to discuss this with their physician, and for those with osteoporosis or who've already had osteoporotic fractures, to take medication to prevent more problems down the line.

"We want to prevent the consequences," said Abelson. "We want to prevent the premature death from osteoporosis, the admissions to nursing homes, the crippling disability for people who get one spine fracture after another."

Abelson also stresses that although osteoporosis is a treatable disease, it is not managed by medication alone.

"Every medication for osteoporosis needs to be accompanied by adequate calcium intake, adequate vitamin D intake, and exercise. So, those three things are the three legs that all treatment stands on," she explained.