NY Times Opinion Pages: Women’s Wariness of the Risks of Osteoporosis Drugs


From the June 15th, 2016 New York Times:

As a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist for 20 years, I saw firsthand how fear could be a very real factor in patient decision-making.

Bisphosphonates are drugs that reduce osteoporotic fractures by suppressing bone turnover at a higher rate than normal. In rare cases, overpowering this natural remodeling process can lead to poor healing and some bone becoming more prone to fractures.

Following the reports of such complications, there was a 50 percent decline in bisphosphonates use. Likewise, in 2002, after a major study on hormone therapy reported greater risk of breast cancer, about 80 percent of women discontinued hormones.

Consequently, we are now in the midst of a “bone void”: Patients are simply opting out of effective treatment options, taking chances with a debilitating and preventable condition.

Ideally, medications that restore bone balance in postmenopausal women could pose less risk for bone and jaw problems. Drugs that address osteoporosis, allay fears of breast cancer, treat symptoms and avoid unintended consequences would be a great advance. Hopefully, with the collaboration of patients, clinicians and researchers, we will ultimately get the bone balance right.


Columbus, Ohio

The writer, director emeritus of the Columbus Center for Women’s Health Research, is the founder and chief executive of Sermonix Pharmaceutical