This month's Save Our Bones Bulletin looks at the latest news about prescription drugs, their harmful side effects, and how they get prescribed.
First, we'll look at a study out of Ireland about the widespread problem of overprescription among seniors. Researchers found an effective and simple route to reducing the number of medications a patient is on.
Then you'll learn about the latest destructive side-effect of bisphosphonate drugs. The commonly prescribed drug alendronate, also known as Fosamax, proved to be the most damaging of them all.
Finally, we have a press release about the FDA’s clearance of a new device for measuring bone strength and quality. If the creators' claims are true, it could revolutionize our ability to measure the health of bones.
Study Finds That Doctors Overprescribe Seniors
A new study has found that when doctors review the prescriptions of seniors who are on a large number of different prescription drugs they realize that many of those drugs are unnecessary.
The researchers worked with 51 health care providers who found that 404 of their patients were taking at least 15 different medications. Upon inspection, they found that these patients were taking drugs they didn't need and that they could be interacting with each other in dangerous ways.
Ultimately, they cut out over 800 medications that were prescribed to 208 of those participants.
“The review included a screening of each prescription to see which ones were inappropriate to take together, which ones the patients had an opportunity to stop taking, and which drugs should be a priority for patients to take. Results show doctors were able to cut out over 800 medications among 208 intervention participants.
After removing the 800+ drugs, researchers noted only 15 possible side-effects of ending those prescriptions…
“The intervention approach to managing this challenging problem is promising and demonstrates that, even in this very complex group, stopping medicines that may no longer be needed or appropriate is both possible and generally safe,” concludes Professor Susan Smith, Associate Director of the HRB Primary Care Clinical Trials Network.”1
Not only is reducing prescription load possible and safe, it's essential to preventing serious harm. The Lown Institute's investigation into this problem found that nearly 20 percent of older Americans take five or more prescription drugs. With each additional drug, the odds of a severe reaction increase from seven to 10 percent.2
We see the results of that risk increase in hospitalizations. Approximately 750 Americans aged 65 or older are hospitalized each day as a result of serious side effects from one or more medications.2
As today's study clearly demonstrates, a large number of those prescriptions could have been cut out, preventing hospitalizations and saving lives. Unnecessary and ineffective prescriptions— like bisphosphonates and other drugs prescribed for osteoporosis, cause more harm than good.
Researchers in Ireland found that when doctors reviewed the prescriptions taken by patients on more than 15 medications, many were unnecessary and greatly increased the risk of dangerous interactions or side effects. They cut more than 800 medications among 208 intervention participants.
Osteoporosis Drug Linked To Increased Depression And Anxiety
According to the latest research, bisphosphonates, a commonly prescribed class of osteoporosis drugs, are significantly associated with depression and anxiety. The drug with the biggest negative impact on patients' mental and emotional health was alendronate, also known as Fosamax.
The researchers analyzed reports of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) from more than 100,000 people taking bisphosphonates.
“We found that alendronate therapy is significantly associated with depression and anxiety when compared to other first-line osteoporosis treatments. The reported risk of depressive ADRs was found to be over 14-fold greater in patients taking alendronate under the age of 65 and over fourfold greater for patients over 65 compared to the control.”3
This finding is not surprising, given the long list of many other side effects caused by bisphosphonates. Take a look at this list of known risks and side effects of Fosamax (alendronate):
- Increased risk of femur fractures
- Osteonecrosis of the jaw
- Esophageal ulcers and cancer
- Hair loss (alopecia)
- Upper GI irritation/heartburn
- Skin rashes
- Low blood calcium
- Joint and muscle pain
- Swelling of the hands and feet
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chest pain
- Thigh and hip pain
Now we can add depression and anxiety to the list.
This study provides yet more evidence that a drug-free all-natural approach to reversing osteoporosis is a far better and safer choice than using damaging and ineffective osteoporosis drugs.
A study found that taking bisphosphonates increased the incidence of depression and anxiety among participants compared to a control group. The drug that caused the most severe increase in these adverse drug reactions was alendronate, also known as Fosamax.
New Bone Measurement Device Gets FDA Approval
The FDA has approved a new device that claims to measure the strength and quality of bone tissue.
The new tool is a portable handheld device called OsteoProbe. Unlike other tools currently used to measure bone density, it is not radiation-based.
The OsteoProbe has a needle-like protrusion on one end. The single-use tip, which the creators compare to an acupuncture needle, is used on the patient's shin, to physically measure the bone's mineral density and structure.
“People are often shocked to learn that bone density is only one part of having strong healthy bones. In fact, most patients who suffer a fracture due to fragile bones do not have osteoporotic bone density,” said Dr. Paul Hansma, a UC Santa Barbara Professor of Physics who invented the technology behind Bone Score™.
“There's a difference between how much bone you have, or density, and how good your bone tissue is, or quality. Unfortunately, the clinical assessment of quality remains a ‘black box'. The Bone Score™ test quantifies how bone tissue resists a physical challenge, on a safe, microscopic level, and provides previously unavailable data for physicians to consider when investigating the quality of a patient's bone.”4
This new tool can hopefully offer better information about bone quality than DXA scans which only measure bone mineral density. More information about the quality of our bones is valuable.
But what's more impactful is what doctors and patients decide to do in response to that information. New drugs might emerge that seek to improve this newly invented Bone Score, the same way that current osteoporosis drugs seek to improve a DXA score.
Unfortunately, such goals are missing the point. That's why at the Save Institute we have set our sights on specific and holistic outcomes: stronger, higher quality bones and an all-around healthier life.
The FDA has approved a new medical device that takes a physical measurement of bone strength and quality– unlike DXA scans that use radiation to measure bone mineral density. The device calculates a Bone Score, which in theory provides useful information about bone health.
What This Means To You
Thanks to decades of peer-reviewed scientific research, we know what actions and behaviors have a positive impact on bone health and fracture risk. They are the basis of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, which uses diet, exercise, and simple lifestyle changes to improve bone strength and overall wellbeing at the same time. It's been so successful that a vibrant Saver community has grown toprovide support and encouragement to each other and share their knowledge and experiences.
Savers know about the detriments of osteoporosis drugs and the culture of over-prescription that has plagued the Medical Establishment and hurt patients.
Fortunately, we have the power to remove ourselves from that injurious cycle by taking an active and well-informed interest in our own health. That includes taking the rewarding path chosen by Savers: a drug-free approach to preventing and reversing osteoporosis. Feel proud of the work you've done to learn so that you can make the best decisions for your health.