Bone Loss Shots Fight Osteoporosis
A Shot Every Three Months May Be Alternative to Once-Daily Tablets
Oct. 13, 2003 -- Women may soon have a new alternative to
taking a pill every day to help prevent the bone loss associated with
menopause. A new study shows a shot of an experimental drug every three months
may be just as good as daily tablets for aiding in osteoporosis prevention.
Researchers found quarterly shots of the drug ibandronate given
to postmenopausal women without osteoporosis produced similar bone-loss
preventative benefits as those provided by daily drug therapy.
Ibandronate is part of a class of drugs used in osteoporosis
prevention known as bisphosphonates. Other bisphosponates include Fosamax and
Actonal. These drugs are commonly prescribed in pill form to be taken once a
day by postmenopausal women who have osteoporosis or who are at risk or develop
But researchers are now investigating new, intravenous forms of
these and other drugs administered at less frequent intervals to make it more
convenient for women to keep up with their osteoporosis prevention therapy.
Osteoporosis is a bone-weakening disease that frequently
strikes women after menopause. The disease makes the bones less dense and
susceptible to potentially disabling fractures in the spine and hip as well as
Quarterly Shots Help Prevent Osteoporosis
In this study, researchers looked at the safety and
effectiveness of giving different dosages of ibandronate via injection once
every three months to a group of 629 postmenopausal women without
The study showed that one year's worth of quarterly treatment
with ibandronate produced similar gains in bone mineral density (BMD, a measure
of bone strength) in the spine and hip as is typically found with daily
The 2.0-milligram dose produced an average 2.5% increase in
lumbar spine BMD and a 1.7% increase in BMD at the hip compared with those who
received a placebo. This dosage level also produced the greatest benefits in
normalizing the rate of bone turnover, a process where new cells may not keep
up pace with the resorption of old bone leaving bone porous and fragile. Bone
turnover is a factor that contributes to the development of osteoporosis.
The results of the study appear in the October issue of the
Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.
Researchers say the protective effects of ibandronate in
osteoporosis prevention were seen regardless of the women's BMD at the start of
the study or time since menopause. But the effects of the therapy were most
evident in women at risk for osteoporosis -- women with slight degrees of bone
loss not sufficient enough to qualify as having osteoporosis but not considered
to have normal bone mineral density measures either.
The most common side effect of treatment with ibandronate was
body aches, which was usually minor and reported after the first injection.
Researchers say it's the first study to demonstrate the
effectiveness and safety of intermittent intravenous injections of a
bisphosphonate in preventing bone loss in early menopausal women.