A drug commonly used to treat a bone-thinning disease is safe and can prevent fractures in elderly women at mild bone loss risk, finds a new study. Researchers from the University of Auckland found that drug zoledronate reduced about one-third the risk of fracture in elderly women with osteopenia — earlier stages of bone loss, the npr.org reported.
The risk of non-vertebral or vertebral fragility fractures was significantly lower in women with osteopenia who received zoledronate than in women who received placebo.
“The need to establish treatment efficacy in osteopenia has become more pressing, given the clinical trend to base intervention decisions on absolute fracture risk,” Ian R. Reid, from the University’s department of medicine at Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, was quoted as saying to the healio.com.
“Zoledronate (also known as zoledronic acid) has characteristics that make it attractive for use in women who have osteopenia. “It is administered by intravenous injection at intervals of one year or longer, and is preferred over oral bisphosphonates by a majority of patients and has had a satisfactory safety profile,” Reid said.
Currently, Bisphosphonates are used to prevent fractures in patients with osteoporosis, however, their efficacy in women with osteopenia is unknown, the researchers said. Most fractures in postmenopausal women occur in those with osteopenia, so therapies that are effective in women with osteopenia are needed.
In the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the team included 2,000 women aged 65 and older at earlier stages of osteopenia. The participants were randomly assigned to a 5 mg injection of zoledronate every 18 months for 6 years or saline injections at the same intervals.
As compared with the placebo group, women who received zoledronate had a lower risk of non-vertebral fragility fractures, symptomatic fractures, vertebral fractures, and height loss, the results showed.