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BBS response to recent reports on Bisphosphonates

The Brittle Bone Society has received a number of enquiries further to a recent programme, Radio 4. (March 2017)

The Programme reported that results from a recent study suggested that oral alendronate (a bisphosphonate) could weaken rather than strengthen bones. This may have worried people on bisphosphonates.

The BBS's medical advisory committee would like to reassure people that this is old news and while of interest to scientists is not changing how patients are treated. ‎ The Radio 4 programme was based on a very small study from London looking at the core bone samples from the top of the thigh from older people, was only exploratory and raised more questions than it answered.

For many years we have known that microcracks do happen with this type of treatment but what really matters is does taking alendronate mean you are going to have more fractures or broken bones. This was properly tested in 1996 by giving 1,022 people with osteoporosis alendronate and 1,005 A placebo. This study showed that the people who took alendronate had much better bones that broke less often than those given the placebo. Nearly all the studies since then have also shown that a person taking alendronate has stronger bones that are less likely to fracture or break.

Further research is needed to repeat the London study using more patients and better descriptions of their osteoporosis and alendronate treatment. In the meantime, patients should feel reassured that the stories from many other studies of alendronate are all very positive. There are new studies starting this year for people with brittle bone disease, and anyone interested in taking part should please visit our research page, where further updates will be announced soon.

This story around bisphosphonates comes as the Brittle Bone Society have just held their first hugely successful Scientific Symposium in London in the year and when the global rare disease communities state ‘Research’ as their theme.

The charity are delighted with their endorsement and membership to the AMRC and they are also set to increase their participation and involvement in key research studies and trials.

Chief Exec Patricia Osborne says: ‘It’s perfectly understandable people raise concerns when they hear news about treatment they are using. That is why we are glad we can call on the expertise of our Medical Advisory Board to provide the facts and hopefully allay people’s concerns”. If people would like more information from us or are interested in learning more would hope they will look at our website or get in touch with us at the Brittle Bone Society”.

Read the BBS Bisphosphonate factsheet here