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In the journals: Study finds no link between bone drugs and unusual thigh fractures

Updated: July 01, 2010

Bisphosphonates are the main class of drugs prescribed to reduce the risk of fractures in women who have osteoporosis or are at high risk for the disease. Since 2008, several medical journals have published case reports describing atypical fractures across the thighbone (femur) in postmenopausal women taking bisphosphonates for five years or more — usually alendronate (Fosamax), the most commonly prescribed bisphosphonate. These fractures involved little or no trauma and were often preceded by weeks to months of thigh pain. X-rays showed thickening in the bone at the fracture sites.

Since the reports appeared, there's been concern about the long-term safety of bisphosphonates, and speculation that in some cases they may ultimately weaken rather than strengthen bone. Scientists have been reviewing existing data on bisphosphonates and hip and thigh fractures. The FDA has also begun a formal safety review.

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