Osteoporosis Drugs

These drugs are approved for the treatment or prevention of osteoporosis:

  • Alendronate (Fosamax®). This drug belongs to a class of drugs called biophosphonates and is approved for both prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. It is used to treat bone loss from the long-term use of osteoporosis-causing medications and is used for osteoporosis in men. In postmenopausal women, it has shown to be effective at reducing bone loss, increasing bone density in the spine and hip, and reducing the risk of spine and hip fractures.
  • Risedronate (Actonel®). Like Alendronate, this drug also is a biophosphonate and is approved for both prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, for bone loss from the long-term use of osteoporosis-causing medications, and for osteoporosis in men. It has been shown to slow bone loss, increase bone density, and reduce the risk of spine and non-spine fractures.
  • Calcitonin (Miacalcin®). Calcitonin is a naturally occurring hormone involved in calcium regulation and bone metabolism. Calcitonin can be injected or taken as a nasal spray. In women who are at least five years beyond menopause, it slows bone loss and increases spinal bone density. Women report that it also eases pain associated with bone fractures.
  • Raloxifene (Evista®). This drug is a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) that has many estrogen-like properties. It is approved for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and can prevent bone loss at the spine, hip, and other areas of the body. Studies have shown that it can decrease the rate of vertebral fractures by 30-50%.
  • Estrogen therapy (ET), or Hormone Therapy (HT). These drugs, which have been used to treat the symptoms of menopause, also are used to prevent bone loss.  But recent studies suggest that this might not be a good option for many women. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made the following recommendations for taking ET and HT:
  • Take the lowest possible doses of ET or HT for the shortest period of time to manage symptoms of menopause.
  • Talk about using other osteoporosis medications instead.
  • Parathyroid Hormone or Teriparatide (Fortéo®). This form of parathyroid hormone is approved for the treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and men who are at high risk for a fracture. It helps new bone to form and increases bone density. It has been shown to reduce fractures in postmenopausal women in the spine, hip, foot, ribs, and wrist. In men, it can reduce fractures in the spine. A patient gives it to herself as a daily injection for up to 24 months.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Aug 12, 2009

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