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
WebMD

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
WebMD

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
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    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

Font Size
A
A
A

Newer Osteoporosis Treatments Build Stronger Bones

Recent drugs help maintain or increase bone density and also prevent fractures.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

No matter which osteoporosis drug your doctor chooses for you, it's helpful to know as much as possible about how the disease has affected you. One way to tell is to ask about your "markers."

What a difference a decade makes. In 1995, Fosamax, the first medication in a class of drugs called bisphosphonates, came on the market.

Recommended Related to Osteoporosis

Preventing Spinal Compression Fractures

To prevent future spinal compression fractures, it's also important to treat the osteoporosis that likely caused your fracture and begin building stronger bones. Natural ways to prevent spinal compression fractures include taking calciumsupplements, getting more vitamin D, quitting smoking, preventing falls, and doing weight-bearing and strength-building exercises. You can also take medications to halt or slow osteoporosis, including: Bisphosphonate drugs (Actonel, Binosto, Boniva, Fosamax),...

Read the Preventing Spinal Compression Fractures article > >

Bisphosphonates affect what's called the bone remodeling cycle, which involves bone resorption (the dissolving of existing bone tissue) and formation (the filling of the resulting small cavities with new bone tissue). Usually, these two parts of the cycle are balanced, but when resorption outpaces formation, you eventually have osteoporosis.

By slowing or stopping the bone-resorbing portion of the remodeling cycle, bisphosphonates allow new bone formation to catch up with bone resorption. Fosamax and other drugs such as Actonel, Boniva, and Reclast increase bone density and help prevent and treat osteoporosis and/or reduce the risk of fractures.

Increasing Bone Density

"Over three years on Fosamax, you can expect a 6% to 8% increase in spinal bone density and a 4% to 6% increase in hip bone density," says Michael Holick, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics at Boston University Medical Center. "And the bisphosphonates have been found to reduce spinal fracture by as much as 60% over three years, and hip fractures by as much as 50%."

Recently completed studies show that these effects continue with long-term use. "You see the most dramatic effect in the first three to five years on the medications, but we continue to see a smaller but significant increase in bone density for up to 10 years," Holick says. "More important, if you stop taking the drugs, you begin to lose bone at the same rate you would have before."

But bisphosphonates do have some limitations. For one thing, the regimen for taking them effectively is very intense. Since as little as 1%- 5 % of the drug is absorbed by your body -- the rest is excreted -- you have to make sure to make the most of every dose. With drugs like Fosamax and Actonel, this means taking it first thing in the morning once a week -- and then not ingesting anything else for half an hour to an hour.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Next Article:

How do you protect your bones?