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Medical News & Perspectives
February 18, 2009

Long-term Risks of Bisphosphonates Probed

JAMA. 2009;301(7):710-711. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.128

A growing body of evidence suggests that long-term use of apopular class of drugs for osteoporosis and other bone disorders may be associated with the development of rare complications in some patients.

Bisphosphonate drugs, which stop the resorption of bone, are widely prescribed to treat such conditions as osteoporosis, Paget disease, and certain conditions in cancer patients. However, emerging data show a possible connection between long-term bisphosphonate use and some rare but serious adverse events, such as low-energy femoral fractures (caused by falls from a standing height or less) and osteonecrosis of the jaw. Additionally, a scientist at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently noted reports of esophageal cancer in patients taking alendronate.

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