In what they termed the largest study of an osteoporosis drug ever, UC San Francisco researchers have found that a bone-strengthening drug can reduce the risk of hip and spinal fractures by half in elderly women. Hip fractures are an expensive and dangerous byproduct of osteoporosis. An estimated 20% of women who suffer a hip fracture die within a year, and many others spend the rest of their lives in nursing homes.
Dr. Dennis Black and his colleagues studied 2,027 women between the ages 55 and 80, all of whom had previously suffered a spinal fracture. Half were given a placebo and half were given alendronate, better known as Fosamax. Among those who received the drug, the number who suffered a hip fracture dropped 51% while the number who suffered a spinal fracture dropped 47%.