Harvard Health Letter

By the way, doctor: Will Boniva make my bones weaker?

Q. I am taking Boniva for osteoporosis. Recently, I read information from an alleged women's health expert who said that osteoporosis drugs like the one I'm taking actually make bones weaker by stopping the body from breaking down old bone, and causing disease of the jaw. Is that true?

A. What the "expert" said is misleading and largely untrue. Boniva (ibandronate) is a bisphosphonate drug, like alendronate. It's true that a rare side effect of bisphosphonates is damage to the jawbone, but this has been seen mainly in patients with cancer who have been given high doses intravenously, not in people like you who are taking a bisphosphonate orally for osteoporosis.

It's also true that one published report found nine cases in which alendronate may have weakened bones and caused unusual fractures. Even if these fractures were caused by alendronate, it's a rare event when you consider the millions of women that take bisphosphonates.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »