osteoporosis meds

  1. Missed opportunity

    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.

  2. Osteoporosis meds lead to broken bones

    In addition to being incompetent, it looks like the bureaucratic brains in charge of the FDA are illiterate to boot.

    A pair of studies found that women who take bisphosphonate meds -- drugs that are supposed to fight off osteoporosis -- may actually have an increased risk of brittle bones and femur fractures.

    These unlucky women don't even have to be doing anything strenuous. They could just be walking along and suddenly -- CRACK! -- a bone breaks for no reason at all.

    But when the FDA found out about these studies, they sprang into their usual inaction -- quickly issuing a statement saying there's no clear connection between these meds and hip fractures... and telling women to keep right on taking them!

    See no evil, hear no evil... read no studies, especially when they concern a class of drugs that did $3.5 billion in business in 2008 alone.

    So let me tell you what the FDA won't: Long-term use of meds like Actonel, Boniva, Fosamax and Reclast have been linked to femur fractures. One of the studies found bones turning to peanut brittle at four years... and both studies found an increased risk of fracture at five years or more.

    The studies, presented at the annual conference of American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, also found that the fractures tend to happen to otherwise perfectly healthy active women -- not nursing-home patients.

    But that's not the only bad news about these meds... that's just the latest bad news, because bisphosphonates have been linked to heartburn, abdominal pain, fever, bone and muscle pain, low energy and low levels of calcium in the blood.

    And if you think that's bad, these meds have also been linked to esophageal cancer and necrosis of the jaw.

    Ladies, if you want to ward off osteoporosis, skip the pills and drink more beer -- ideally India pale ales. As I told you just a few weeks ago, beer is the single best source of dietary silicon needed for strong bones.

    Then, invest in a good beach chair so you can spend more time in the sun making your own vitamin D... and while you're out there, visit my archives and read the November issue of the Douglass Report, where I have everything you need to know about osteoporosis prevention. If you're not a subscriber, you can sign up here.

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