By the way, doctor: Should I take an intravenous drug for osteoporosis?

Published: July, 2007

Q. I've been taking a Fosamax pill once a week for two years for osteoporosis. I heard that there is an intravenous drug for osteoporosis that's taken just once a year. Should I consider switching to it?

A. The report that a yearly infusion of zoledronic acid reduces fracture risk has many postmenopausal women asking the same question. Zoledronic acid is a bisphosphonate. Like other medications in this class, such as the oral drugs alendronate (Fosamax) and risedronate (Actonel), it reduces bone resorption (breakdown). It's approved for treating bone damage and high blood levels of calcium in cancer patients. In 2002, researchers found that a single infusion increased bone mineral density (BMD) and reduced bone turnover for a full year afterwards, spurring interest in zoledronic acid as a treatment for osteoporosis.

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