Risks and Benefits of Bisphosphonate Therapies

Authors

  • Carlen Reyes,

    1. GREMPAL Research Group, Institut Universitari d'Investigació en Atenció Primària Jordi Gol (IDIAP Jordi Gol), Barcelona, Spain
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  • Mette Hitz,

    1. Department of Endocrinology, Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre, Kettegaards Alle, Hvidovre, Denmark
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  • Daniel Prieto-Alhambra,

    1. GREMPAL Research Group, Institut Universitari d'Investigació en Atenció Primària Jordi Gol (IDIAP Jordi Gol), Barcelona, Spain
    2. URFOA-IMIM and RETICEF, Parc de Salut Mar and Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Barcelona, Spain
    3. Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, Oxford NIHR Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
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  • Bo Abrahamsen

    Corresponding author
    1. Odense Patient Data Explorative Network, Institute of Clinical Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
    2. Department of Medicine, Holbæk Hospital, Holbæk, Denmark
    • Correspondence to: Prof. Bo Abrahamsen, MD, PhD, University of Southern Denmark & Holbæk Hospital, Odense Patient Data Explorative Network, Institute of Clinical Research, DK-5000 Odense C, Denmark. E-mail: b.abrahamsen@physician.dk

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ABSTRACT

Bisphosphonates are the mainstay of osteoporosis treatment but also play a fundamental role in treating other bone diseases such as Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Pagets' disease, and in the prevention of adverse skeletal effects in certain cancers such as prostate cancer or multiple myeloma. In the last decades, the refinement of bisphosphonates and an increase in the number of new bisphosphonates commercialized has altered the clinical management of these diseases. Despite differences between randomized controlled trials and observational studies, overall all bisphosphonates licensed have proven to reduce the risk of fracture through the inhibition of bone resorption. Other beneficial effects include pain reduction in bone metastasis and potentially a decrease in mortality. However, the chronic nature of most of these disorders implies long-term treatments, which can be associated with long-term adverse effects. Some of the adverse effects identified include an increased risk of atypical femur fractures, osteonecrosis of the jaw, gastrointestinal side effects, or atrial fibrillation. The harm/benefit thinking and the constant update regarding these medications are vital in the day-to-day decision-making in clinical practices. The aims of this review are to compile the basic characteristics of these drugs and outline the most important benefits and side effects and provide a clinical context as well as a research agenda to fill the gaps in our knowledge. J. Cell. Biochem. 117: 20–28, 2016. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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