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Bone drugs cut death

Posted 13 August 2019

Australians researchers have published a new study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research showing osteoporosis drugs can cut risk of death. 

Scientists from the Garvan Institute found commonly used nitrogen-bisphosphonates reduced risk of death by 34 per cent in a cohort of 6,000 patients, likely due to reductions in bone mass. 

But the researchers said medication uptake was low, with just 30 per cent of women and 20 per cent of men at risk of fractures taking the drugs. 

Nitrogen-bisphosphonates include alendronate and risedronate, which are largely genericised medicines on the PBS. The biggest drug in the class is Theramex's Actonel EC, which had around 320,000 scripts handed out in the last financial year. 

"It's a common misconception that osteoporosis affects only women, and many people choose not to take recommended treatments," lead author Professor Jacqueline Center said. 

"But osteoporotic fractures are not benign. Osteoporosis medication not only decreses the risk of further fractures - but it appears that this same medication also decreases mortality rates over the subsequent 15 years."

Currently the biggest osteoporosis therapy is Amgen's biologic Prolia with 710,000 scripts last financial year. It jumped 21 per cent over the prior period, and now totals around $185.7 million in pre-rebate benefits. 

Yajun Ma

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