Despite promising results in using bisphosphonates as a treatment for breast cancer in postmenopausal women, the drugs, according to a new study published in a prominent British medical journal, should not be generally prescribed to the breast cancer population before more research is conducted.
Findings Appear in The Lancet
A study known as the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) protocol B-34 and performed by researchers from a number of institutions sought to determine “whether oral clodronate can improve outcomes in women with primary breast cancer.”
Previous studies produced mixed results, and while NSABP B-34 suggests that bisphosphonates could help postmenopausal women with breast cancer, researchers still believe it is premature to treat all women suffering from breast cancer with the drugs.
“At this stage of clinical research, bisphosphonates should not be prescribed for an assumed benefit in adjuvant management of breast cancer,” wrote Peter Dubsky and Rupert Bartsch from the University of Vienna in Austria in a comment accompanying NSABP B-34, which was published in the online edition of Lancet Oncology.
The study tracked 3,323 women with breast cancer for three years following surgery to remove tumors. Some of the subjects were given 1,600 mg of clodronate (trade name Bonefos) daily, while others were given a placebo. The final results showed that those women aged 50 and older who took clodronate had significantly longer recurrence-free, bone-metastasis-free, and non-bone metastasis free intervals.
Bisphosphonates Linked to Atypical Femur Fractures
Although the exact correlation between bisphosphonates and breast cancer remains uncertain, there is increasingly less doubt that the drugs can cause a rare type of leg injury. So-called atypical femur fractures, which can occur after little or no trauma, have been linked by numerous studies to bisphosphonate drugs such as alendronate sodium (trade name Fosamax).
The most recent of these studies, published in May 2012 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that approximately 82 percent of study participants with an atypical femur fracture had been taking drugs like Fosamax. The study also found that the risk of a femur fracture increased with longer bisphosphonate use.
The mounting evidence that Fosamax and other bisphosphonates cause thigh bone breaks corresponds with a spike in the number of lawsuits filed against drugmakers such as Merck & Co. Merck is currently facing thousands of lawsuits alleging that Fosamax causes atypical femur fractures and osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), a condition that cuts off the supply of blood to the jaw bone.
Discuss Your Injury With a Lawyer
If you suffered a sudden, unexpected femur fracture and you have taken Fosamax, the injury may not have been an accident. Compensation could be available from Merck for those who suffered certain types of leg breaks. To find out through a free case review whether you qualify for a lawsuit, contact the Rottenstein Law Group by filling out this form or calling 1-877-332-2347.
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