Drugs in the News: Once-a-Year Drug Tested for Osteoporosis

An interesting thing is happening with companies that make drugs for osteoporosis (a condition in which the bones become fragile, leading to possible fractures). Researchers who design such drugs have extended the number of days a drug can be taken and still provide protection to individuals who are experiencing bone loss. Fosamax and Actonel can be taken by mouth, once-a-week. Boniva, which is approved to be taken once-a-week, has been shown to provide protection when taken once-a-month. Now we are hearing from one manufacturer (Novartis), that tests with a drug called Reclast (zoledronic acid) have shown that the incidence of postmenopausal osteoporosis can be reduced in women with this drug if it is taken only once-a-year. The drug is designed to be given as an injection. In clinical trial, Reclast reduced the risk of new spine fractures by 70% and hip fractures by 40%. Reclast is also known as Aclasta in other countries where it has been approved for Paget's disease. According to Novartis, the side effects of Reclast are generally minor and are short lived.