Older women with osteoporosis who received yearly infusions of a drug that prevents bone loss had far fewer fractures than did peers who didn't get the drug.
Over 3 years, the women who received zoledronic acid intravenously had about one-third as many spine fractures as did women who received a placebo. The drug-treated group also had significantly fewer fractures of the hip, wrist, and other bones.
"I think [the findings] will change clinical practice, particularly for the oldest people, who are most at risk" for fractures, says Dennis Black of the University of California, San Francisco. He led the study published in the May 3 New England Journal of Medicine.
Most current osteoporosis drugs must be taken orally every morning or once a week on an empty stomach and with a full glass of water. To avoid esophageal irritation, patients must remain upright for 30 minutes after taking their pills.
Black says that about 70 percent of people prescribed or