Osteoporosis leads to fragility fractures. These are broken bones that happen from a minor injury but that have major consequences such as pain, disability and sometimes death. Therefore, Osteoporosis Canada supports the use of medications that have been proven, in good clinical trials, to significantly reduce a person’s risk of fracture.
The primary goal of treatment is to prevent or slow bone loss and reduce the risk of fracture.
For those living with osteoporosis, there are a variety of treatment options available. Everyone is different – some people respond better to one drug than another, while some experience side effects that others don’t. You may need to explore several treatment options before you find one that works for you.
It’s important to speak to your doctor to assess the benefits and risks of each treatment, and determine which is best for you.
Specific drug treatments to treat osteoporosis include:
Bisphosphonates are the most common family of drugs used to treat osteoporosis. They are part of the group of osteoporosis medications known as anti-resorptives. There are four bisphosphonates currently approved for use in Canada: alendronate (Fosamax ®), etidronate (Didrocal ®), risedronate (Actonel ®) and zoledronic acid (Aclasta®). Also available are: Actonel DR™, Fosavance® (Fosamax® with vitamin D) and several generic versions.
Denosumab is a new class of osteoporosis treatment called a human monoclonal antibody that prevents RANKL-RANK interaction and thereby inhibits osteoclast formation. Denosumab (Prolia™) is the first treatment approved by Health Canada in this class.
Parathyroid hormone (PTH) and its analogue, teriparatide, are a new class of osteoporosis treatments called bone formation agents. Teriparatide injection (Forteo) is the first medication approved by Health Canada in this new class.
Hormone Therapy (HT) or estrogen/progesterone, is commonly used to relieve the symptoms of menopause. However, because estrogen plays such an important role in maintaining bone, HT is another option to consider to treat osteoporosis if you are also seeking relief from symptoms of menopause.
Raloxifene (Evista®) is from a family of drugs called SERMs (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators).