Bisphosphonate bone drugs connected to esophageal cancer
Popular bisphosphonate drugs used to treat the bone thinning condition that increases the likelihood of a bone fracture (osteoporosis) may increase the risk of developing dangerous esophageal cancer, a Food and Drug Administration official said on Wednesday. Diane Wysowski of the FDA's division of drug risk assessment said researchers should check into potential links between so called bisphosphonate drugs and cancer.
In a letter in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, Wysowski said since the initial marketing of Fosamax (alendronate) in 1995, the FDA has received 23 reports in which patients developed esophageal tumors. Typically, two years lapsed between the start of the drug and the development of esophageal cancer. Eight patients died, she reported. Additionally in Europe and Japan, 21 cases involving Fosamax have been logged, with another six instances where Actonel (risedronate) and Didronel (etidronate) and Boniva (ibandronate) may have been involved. Six of those people died.
Esophagitis is inflammation of the lining of the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. It is already established that a side effect of these drugs is esophagitis; this is why patients are instructed to remain upright for at least a half hour after taking them. In addition, Wysowski said, doctors should avoid prescribing the drugs to people with Barrett's esophagus, which is a mutation to the cells in the lining that leads to the stomach. It is often found in people with acid reflux disease and itself increases the risk of cancer.
Bisphosphonate drugs linked to jaw bone death
Researchers at the University Of Southern California School Of Dentistry have released results of clinical data that links oral bisphosphonates to increased jaw necrosis (death of jawbone tissue). Fosamax is the most widely prescribed oral bisphosphonate.
This is the first large institutional study in the U.S. to investigate the relationship between oral bisphosphonate use and jaw bone death, said principal investigator Parish Sedghizadeh, assistant professor of clinical dentistry with the USC School of Dentistry.