Dr. Elizabeth Shane of Columbia University in New York and a member of the international panel of experts convened by the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research says long-term use of this group of drugs, prescribed to prevent common bone fractures in osteoporosis patients, may be related to a rare type of thigh bone fractures representing less than 1 percent of hip and thigh fractures overall.
The task force report, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, reviewed 310 cases of "atypical femur fractures" and found 291 patients -- 94 percent -- had taken the drugs, often for more than five years.
"We know that bisphosphonates prevent many, many common fractures," Shane said in a statement. "For this reason, we want to emphasize that patients should not stop taking these drugs because they are afraid of the much more uncommon femur fractures. They should talk to their health professionals about their concerns and should let them know if they experience any new groin or thigh pain."
The report indicates more than half of patients with atypical femur fractures reported groin or thigh pain for a period of weeks or months before fractures occurred.
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