Harvard Women's Health Watch

Ask the doctor: Will bisphosphonate infusions help me avoid a bone break?

Q. I've had osteoporosis for several years, and I've been taking alendronate (Fosamax) once a week. I wasn't very good at remembering to take it regularly, so my doctor recently recommended that I start on once-a-year infusions of zoledronic acid (Reclast). Will it work as well to prevent me from breaking a bone?

A. Zoledronic acid is an intravenous bisphosphonate that is frequently used to treat osteoporosis. It is a very effective medication. Several studies have demonstrated that it increases bone density and, more importantly, reduces fracture risk.

There are a few common reasons why doctors recommend this drug for their patients with osteoporosis. One is that it's a challenge for many women to remember to take a once-a-week oral medication. The number of women who are still taking their weekly alendronate one year after it was prescribed is relatively low. A once-a-year infusion is a more reliable way to make sure women get the benefit of treatment.

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