First results of male osteoporosis treatment study

October 01, 1999

Treatment approved for use in women shown to be effective in men

Portland, Ore.--A drug used for the treatment of osteoporosis in women is also effective in treating the bone degenerative disease in men. The first-ever study results for male treatment of the disease will be presented at a conference of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research on Oct. 1 in St. Louis.

"This is the first convincing trial that anything has been effective in men," said Eric Orwoll, M.D., professor of medicine and head of the Bone and Mineral Clinic at Oregon Health Sciences University. Orwoll is the lead author on the two-year study, which involved the testing of 241 men at 12 sites around the world.

Men who were given the drug alendronate had on average a seven percent increase in bone mineral density while their counterparts who received a placebo showed little gain. In addition, use of the drug prevented height loss, which is a marker of possible vertebral fractures due to osteoporosis.

Though widely known as a disease that affects women, osteoporosis is responsible for bone fractures in as many as 25 percent of men over the age of 60. Almost 50 percent of women over 60 suffer fractures from the disease.

"The problem of male osteoporosis is becoming more important as there are more older men today, and our population as a whole is living longer," said Orwoll.

This study presents the first documentation of a widely applicable treatment for osteoporotic men. There were also no significant side effects from the drug, which acts to reduce the natural rate of bone resorption. While alendronate has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in women, it could take years for similar approval for use in men. However, due to this study?s findings, doctors may begin to prescribe the drug for men with the disease.

Orwoll will release his findings at a press conference in St. Louis on Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. EST. He will also give a presentation on his study at the conference Oct. 4.

Oregon Health & Science University

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