Harvard Women's Health Watch

Update on osteoporosis treatment

Should you stay on bisphosphonate drugs long-term?

You've probably read the news about a recent FDA analysis that questioned whether women with osteoporosis should stay on bisphosphonate drugs for more than five years. If you've been taking these drugs long-term, you might be wondering, "What do I do now?"

"I think this is a very important issue, and certainly one that patients should talk to their physician about," says Dr. Meryl LeBoff, director of the Skeletal Health and Osteoporosis Center and Bone Density Unit at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Without evidence to prove that these drugs provide any additional bone benefit after five years, and considering that bisphosphonates can have side effects, there doesn't seem to be any reason to continue taking them past the five-year mark. Or is there?

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