Do Bone Drugs Lose Their Effectiveness?

Drugs for osteoporosis are heavily marketed and tend to have long-term effects. Aclasta is classified as a bisphosphonate. A bisphosphonate is a drug that binds to the bone and inhibits the breakdown of bone tissue. While drugs such as pain medications can lose effectiveness over time as a patient builds up a tolerance toward it, bisphosphonates are more complex. A report from the FDA has suggested that patients aren’t likely to benefit from the use of bisphosphonates, like Aclasta, after three to five years of use. In the long run, it can be detrimental to bone health by preventing processes that maintain the normal bone structure.

Prolia, on the other hand, is classified as a monoclonal antibody. This means that it inactivates the natural bone breakdown mechanism, preventing bone loss and reducing the risk of fractures. This type of drug is a newer treatment for osteoporosis and is considered generally safe, but it also has a laundry list of major potential side effects such as the risk of severe infection. It has its upsides in that it is only administered twice a year as a shot and it doesn’t affect the digestive system like some other osteoporosis drugs, but long-term risks and efficacy are uncertain. The NWHN doesn’t recommend its use unless other FDA-approved osteoporosis medications have been explored without success.

The NWHN highly recommends that women consider safety issues when deciding whether to take osteoporosis drugs. Speak with your doctor in depth about the safety and efficacy of any recommended drugs and don’t be afraid to ask about the efficacy of alternative options.

For more information, check out our osteoporosis fact sheet that delves more into our stance on the use of osteoporosis medications.

Additional Resources

Prolia Pros & Cons - Pros and cons of taking Prolia from SaveOurBones

Long-term safety of denosumab (Prolia) - The National Center for Biotechnology Information’s assessment of Prolia’s safety, efficacy, and history

Medication treatments for osteoporosis- The National Center for Biotechnology Information gives information on various osteoporosis medications

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