Whitesburg KY

Drug cuts deaths in elderly patients with hip fractures


For the first time, an osteoporosis drug has reduced deaths and prevented new fractures in elderly patients with broken hips, according to new research.

Some experts called the drop in deaths “striking” but said other drugs could have a similar effect.

In the study, there were 28 percent fewer deaths and 35 percent fewer fractures in the group that got a once-a-year infusion of the bone drug Reclast compared to those who got a dummy treatment.

No other osteoporosis drug study published in at least 15 years has shown such a pronounced reduction in deaths, said Dr. Kenneth Lyles of Duke University Medical Center, the lead author.

The study was released by The New England Journal of Medicine. The research was funded by Novartis, which makes Reclast, and Lyles has two patent applications for the use of the drug. Under the name Zometa, the drug was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for cancer patients in 2002. It was approved for postmenopausal osteoporosis last month, under the name Reclast.

More than 300,000 hip fractures occur in the United States each year. Often they trigger a downward spiral – roughly one in five elderly victims die within a year of breaking their hip.

Generally, doctors tell hipfracture patients to take Fosamax and other bisphosphonates, a class of osteoporosis drugs that stops bone breakdown. But many patients do not take the pills because they cause heartburn and other symptoms. They also are a hassle for elderly patients: You must take it on an empty stomach in the morning, and wait a half hour before eating.

For the study, researchers recruited about 2,000 patients from 23 countries who were not taking oral bisphosphonates. Their average age was 74 and most were women. All had previously broken a hip.

Half of the participants received Reclast, which is a bisphosphonate given in an infusion.

Over the next two years, 139 of the patients in the placebo group had new broken bones, or about 14 percent. Just 92 of the treated patients had second fractures, or about 9 percent.

More surprising, 141 died in the placebo group, or about 13 percent, compared to 101 in the treatment group, about 10 percent.

The cause of death was never determined for many, including

Leave a Reply