Osteoporosis Drug Shown to Cut Fractures

Associated Press
Sunday, September 17, 2006

An experimental treatment for bone-thinning osteoporosis appears to prevent spine and hip fractures even though it is given only once a year, eliminating the need for a strict daily pill regimen, preliminary data show.

Reclast, given as an annual 15-minute infusion, reduced risk of new spine fractures by 70 percent and hip fractures by 40 percent, according to data supplied by the maker, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. The drug, chemically known as zoledronic acid, also reduced the risk of fractures elsewhere, according to a just-completed international study of 7,736 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.

The data, from final-stage human testing, were presented yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research in Philadelphia.

Novartis plans to apply early next year for U.S. approval to sell Reclast.

Dennis M. Black, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California at San Francisco, said Reclast slows the speed at which cells called osteoclasts break down bone while other cells build it back up.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company