FDA panel fails to raise alarm on bone meds

Osteoporosis meds have been linked to kidney failure, crippling pain, death, and even -- ironically -- shattered bones.

So what's an FDA "expert panel" doing to protect the 5 million women who take bisphosphonate meds such as Fosamax, Actonel, Reclast, and Boniva every year?

Nothing!

Sure, they issued a lukewarm call for the agency to include new information about the risks and supposed benefits of long-term use. But don't bother asking the expert panel what that information should include -- they have no idea.

What, do you think they are, experts or something???

The FDA's own scientists even told the panel they found no advantage to taking the meds for more than five years -- but the panel clearly missed that part of the discussion.

"I don't think we have enough data to restrict anything at this point," panelist Dr. Maria Suarez-Almazor told Reuters, despite plenty of data linking these meds to an increased risk of bone breaks, especially when used longer than the five years those FDA scientists mentioned.

"I'm used to dealing with ambiguity in a clinical setting, but this raises it to different heights," complained another panelist, Prof. Brian Erstad.

But there's no ambiguity here. Along with the risk of breaking the bone they're supposed to protect, bisphosphonate meds have been linked to kidney failure, esophageal cancer, serious gastrointestinal problems, and even the death of the jawbone.

The panel's pussyfooting means the FDA itself will have to decide what warning, if any, the drugs should carry. But don't wait for them to act -- because these meds are risky whether you take them for five years, five months, or five minutes.

There are better and more natural ways to protect your bones as you age, including a simple mineral that most people are missing out on.

And no, it's not calcium.

I have everything you need to know about bone health in the November 2009 issue of my Douglass Report newsletter. If you're a subscriber, login now and read it in my archives.

And if you're not, sign up today.