(Article changed on September 2, 2013 at 09:36)
Medical Expert Tells Why Some Popular Anti-Osteoporosis Drugs May Do More Harm Than Good
Since the first bisphosphonate to prevent postmenopausal osteoporosis, Fosamax, was approved in 1995, the widely prescribed drug class has been linked to jawbone death (osteonecrosis), irregular heartbeat, intractable pain, esophageal cancer, eye disorders and paradoxically, bone fractures. As safety signals have surfaced, warnings have been added to the drugs' labels and the FDA is reviewing how long the drugs can be safely used after it heard testimony about spontaneous fractures in bisphosphonate patients in 2011.
Dr. William Banks Hinshaw received his MD from Albany Medical College, a PhD from Stanford University in Natural Products Chemistry and completed his Residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Albany Medical Center Hospital. Both a devoted researcher and practitioner, he is particularly interested in bone health, is a member of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research. Dr. Hinshaw advocates a return to personalized medicine with decreased reliance on pharmacotherapy. We recently sat down with Dr. Hinshaw to ask about his research into the popular bone drugs and his recommendations.
recently co-authored two scientific papers that cast serious doubts about the
safety of bisphosphonate bone drugs such as Fosamax, Boniva,
Actonel, and Reclast. In one paper [in December's Journal of Clinical
Endocrinology & Metabolism ] you
and your co-authors examined 81 patients who experienced fractures, sometimes
four or five, on the drugs. In another paper [in the January issue of
ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters ] you and your co-author suggest the same negative
bone effects now emerging with the drugs date back to a disorder seen during
the industrial revolution.
Hinshaw: 150 years ago, people who worked around white phosphorus in factories where matches were made in the US and Europe sometimes developed "phossy jaw" (osteonecrosis) and thigh bone fragility similar to bisphosphonate effects we see today. The chemical culprit is likely to have been a substance in the white phosphorus smoke that inhibits an enzyme involved in the process of bone remodeling and bisphosphonates happen to have been innocently developed as synthetic versions of that substance. I have researched this extensively, including US Army reports about white phosphorus smoke which was shown to include large amounts of the culprit substance.
Rosenberg: You're saying women who take these bone drugs actually risk induction of a dread condition of 19th century industrial workers?