A drug used to restore the strength of brittle bones by reducing the process of bone resorption has been shown to benefit women 80 years of age or older.
In this elderly population, risedronate, marketed under the brand-name Actonel, diminishes the risk of fractured vertebrae that comes with advanced osteoporosis, according to results of a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Dr. Steven Boonen, of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and colleagues pooled data on women 80+ years old with osteoporosis who took part in three clinical trial of risedronate. In total, 704 women were assigned to take 5 milligrams per day of risedronate and 688 were given an inactive placebo pill for up to 3 years. All of the participants, who ranged in age from 80 to 100, received calcium supplementation. After 1 year, the occurrence rate of new vertebral fractures was 2.5 percent in the risedronate group and 10.9 percent in the placebo group. After 3 years, the corresponding proportions were 18.2 percent and 24.6 percent. This, say the investigators, “represents a 44 percent lower risk in the risedronate group compared with the placebo group.” The safety of risedronate was similar to that of placebo, and there was no significant difference between the groups in the risk of non-vertebral fractures. At 3 years, the proportion of these fractures in the risedronate group was 14 percent and in the placebo group, 16.2 percent. The findings, Boonen’s team concludes, “provide the first evidence that, even in the very old, reducing bone resorption rate remains an effective treatment strategy for osteoporosis.” (Source: Reuters, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Dec 2004.)