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Bone Drug May Help After Hip Fracture

Osteoporosis Drug Reclast May Cut Bone Fractures, Death Rate After Hip Fracture
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 18, 2007 -- People who start taking the osteoporosis drug Reclast after a hip fracture may live longer with fewer bone fractures.

Researchers report that news in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Reclast is given by infusion once a year. The process takes 15 minutes.

Reclast, made by Novartis, was approved by the FDA in August for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Its active ingredient, zoledronic acid, is also marketed by Novartis under the brand name Zometa for use in certain cancer patients.

The new Reclast study suggests that taking Reclast after a hip fracture may also be beneficial, and future research may add more information about which patients may benefit the most.

Reclast After Hip Fracture

The study included 2,127 hip fracture patients who were about 74 years old, on average.

Fracturing a hip is associated with a higher death rate in elders. It's not that seniors die of a fractured hip, but being sidelined with a fractured hip can lead to a downturn in health.

In the study, half of the patients began getting a yearly Reclast infusion within 90 days of fracturing a hip. The other half of the group got an injection that contained no medicine.

All of the patients took calcium and vitamin D supplements during the study. They were typically followed for about two years and were allowed to use certain other osteoporosis treatments.

During that time, patients who got Reclast were 35% less likely to fracture any bone and 28% less likely to die.

Reclast Study Details

Reclast didn't totally prevent bone fractures, but bone fractures were rarer in patients who received Reclast.

Among patients who got Reclast, 8.6% fractured a bone during the study, compared with nearly 14% of those who got the placebo infusion.

In the Reclast group, 9.6% of patients died during the follow-up period, compared with roughly 13% of those who got the placebo infusion.

The researchers, who included Kenneth Lyles, MD, of Duke University Medical Center, report that the most common side effects in patients taking Reclast were fever, achy muscles, and bone pain.

Lyles and colleagues saw no signs of increased heart or kidney risks, and they also report no cases of osteonecrosis of the jaw, a rare and painful jaw condition.

The study was funded by Novartis. Lyle and several of his colleagues report financial ties to Novartis.

Reclast Editorial

The study's results "appear both powerful and compelling," states an editorial published with the study. The editorialists included Karim Anton Calis, PharmD, MPH, of the National Institutes of Health.

They call for further studies to track Reclast's long-term results, test other therapies, and identify groups of hip fracture patients who may benefit most from Reclast treatment.

In the journal, the editorialists report no potential conflicts of interest.

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