Short-term Use of Common Oral Osteoporosis Drugs

Osteoradionecrosis of the jaw (ORNJ) occurred more than twice as often as reported in the literature, according to a population-based study of patients treated with radiation for oral cancer.
 
A review of national medical records showed that 16.1% of patients had jaw complications or interventions consistent with ORNJ compared with published rates of 5% to 7%.
 
However, when investigators applied the definition of ORNJ to patients who had interventions associated with jaw complications, the rate approximated the published rates, as reported here at the Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Symposium.
 
"The rates of all jaw complications in the SEER-Medicare database are higher than reported rates from prospective and retrospective institutional reports," said Beth M. Beadle, MD, PhD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "If we limited the definition to interventions, the rates are similar to those of published reports."
 
Researchers at the University Of Southern California, School Of Dentistry release results of clinical data that links oral bisphosphonates to increased jaw necrosis. The study is among the first to acknowledge that even short-term use of common oral osteoporosis drugs may leave the jaw vulnerable to devastating necrosis, according to the report appearing in the January 1 Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA).
 
Osteoporosis currently affects 10 million Americans. Fosomax is the most widely prescribed oral bisphosphonate, ranking as the 21st most prescribed drug on the market since 2006, according to a 2007 report released by IMS Health.
 
"Oral Bisphosphonate Use and the Prevalence of Osteonecrosis of the Jaw: An Institutional Inquiry" is the first large institutional study in the U.S. to investigate the relationship between oral bisphosphonate use and jaw bone death, said principal investigator Parish Sedghizadeh, assistant professor of clinical dentistry with the USC School of Dentistry.
 
After controlling for referral bias, nine of 208 healthy School of Dentistry patients who take or have taken Fosamax for any length of time were diagnosed with osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). The study's results are in contrast to drug makers' prior assertions that bisphosphonate-related ONJ risk is only noticeable with intravenous use of the drugs, not oral usage, Sedghizadeh said. "We've been told that the risk with oral bisphosphonates is negligible, but four percent is not negligible," he said.
 
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