Alendronate Treatment and Risk of Osteoporotic Fractures

Woman with pills in her handPatients on alendronate treatment may have risk factors for osteoporotic fractures that differ from people who are not on the treatment, according to the results of a study.

The study, “Characteristics of patients who suffer major osteoporotic fractures despite adhering to alendronate treatment: a National Prescription registry study,” appeared online ahead of print in October 2012. It is published in the journal Osteoporosis International.

The study was led by a team of researchers at the Institute of Clinical Research at the University of Southern Denmark. The study authors were concerned with whether the risk factors for fractures would differ in populations who were adherent to alendronate treatment when compared to the general population.

To explore these risk factors, the researchers looked at data on 38,000 new users of alendronate. Participants were identified using the Danish National Prescription registry. The study authors collected information on patients’ osteoporotic fractures 6 or more moths following the filling of their first prescription of alendronate.

The results of the study showed that 1,072 members of the final study sample sustained fractures at or after 6 months into their treatment. Age and gender both played a role in fracture risk—men and older adults had a heightened risk of osteoporotic fractures. Patients’ history of fractures, dementia, ulcer disease, and use of other medications also raised their fracture risk.

Diabetes and rheumatic disorders were not found to be risk factors in the patients on alendronate. Patients using glucocorticoids were found to have a lowered risk of fractures.

The researchers state that their findings demonstrate that risk factors for fractures may differ in patients on alendronate treatment and patients who are not taking the medications. They note that diseases like dementia and ulcer disease may play a role in patients’ ability to remain adherent with their treatment, influencing their risk of fractures.

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