Past studies have shown a connection between bisphosphonates used to treat osteoporosis and an increased risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw. Osteonecrosis is a serious condition where the bone dies due to insufficient blood flow. Following early reports of the possible increased risk of osteonecrosis some dentists advised patients to forego bisphosphonates treatment for osteoporosis.
In an effort to more accurately determine patient risk during bisphosphonates treatment for osteoporosis, researchers embarked on a series of studies comparing the oral and IV forms of the drugs. Four separate studies were conducted and the information of more than 200,000 individuals taking bisphosphonates was evaluated.
Based on the information gathered researchers concluded that the risk for developing osteonecrosis while taking oral bisphosphonates was comparable to the risk associated with participants who took no drugs. The risk of developing the serious jaw condition was as much as six times higher among patients who took the intravenous form of bisphosphonates.
Oral bisphosphonates are currently more commonly prescribed by health care providers than the intravenous form, but the oral form is certainly not the exclusively used method of treatment as of yet. If these findings can be repeated in future studies some health care providers may have to rethink the method of treatment they prescribe for patients with osteoporosis.