Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Osteoporosis Health Center

Font Size

Fastest Osteoporosis Drug: Actonel

Actonel Beats Fosamax in Fewest First-Year Fractures After Menopause
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 27, 2006 -- Actonel and Fosamax both prevent bone loss after menopause. But Actonel works faster, a study by top osteoporosis experts suggests.

Actonel (made by Procter & Gamble) and Fosamax (made by Merck) are both effective treatments for age-related osteoporosis. This kind of bone loss is a particular problem for women after menopause.

The two drugs are members of a class of drugs known as bisphosphonates, as is a newer drug, Roche's Boniva.

There has been some evidence that Actonel may work more quickly to prevent fractures -- particularly the all-too-common hip and non-spine fractures that can greatly reduce a person's quality of life.

But is this really the case?

Nelson B. Watts, MD, director of the University of Cincinnati Bone Health and Osteoporosis Center, joined a team of internationally renowned experts in an effort to find out.

The researchers analyzed insurance records for 12,215 postmenopausal women who took Actonel and 21,615 women who took Fosamax for the first time. The women were 65 and older.

The result: After a year of treatment, women taking Actonel had 43% fewer hip fractures and 18% fewer non-spine fractures than women taking Fosamax.

"This adds to the suggestion from clinical trials that Actonel works faster than Fosamax," Watts tells WebMD. "We found a significantly lower rate of fracture at hip and non-vertebral sites for patients given Actonel vs. Fosamax at both six and 12 months.

"I am not saying one drug is better than the other -- only that Actonel works faster," Watts says.

The study -- sponsored by Procter & Gamble and Sanofi -- appears in the current online issue of the journal Osteoporosis International.

Procter & Gamble, Merck, Roche, and Sanofi are WebMD sponsors.

Slice of Life -- but Not Proof Positive

Watts is quick to point out that the study is not a clinical trial and therefore cannot be taken as conclusive proof.

But the study impresses Holly Thacker, MD, director of the Women's Health Center at The Cleveland Clinic.

Thacker, who was not involved in the study, notes that Watts and colleagues looked at the kind of women doctors see in real life. Moreover, they evaluated the endpoint that really matters to women suffering bone loss -- actual bone fractures.

Today on WebMD

Women working out and walking with weights
Reduce bone loss and build stronger muscles.
Chinese cabbage
Calcium-rich foods to add to your diet.
woman stretching
Get the facts on osteoporosis.
Porous bone
Causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatment.
senior woman
Woman holding plate of brocolli
wrist xray
Superfood for Bones
mature woman
sunlight in hands
man and woman in front of xray
woman with dumbbells