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One out of every five women over 50 and one out of every 20 men will develop osteoporosis, a disease that makes their bones brittle and easily broken.

Fortunately for these individuals, medications are available that can limit fracture risk and potentially block bone loss. These include bisphosphonates (like Fosamax and Reclast) and Prolia, an injectable medication that patients receive once every six months in a health care setting. Patients may prefer to take Prolia if they cannot take other bone-building medications.

But there are a few important things patients who take Prolia should know about these valuable treatments.

But there are a few important things patients who take Prolia should know about these valuable treatments.

  • No drug holidays with Prolia.

Patients should not stop their Prolia injections without talking with their provider. A recent study found that people who stop the treatment without beginning a different bone-building medication lost the progress they had gained. In fact, their bone loss began to accelerate as quickly as seven months after their last dose, putting them at risk for spine fractures.

  • The connection between bisphosphonates, Prolia, and oral health.

One very rare side effect of these medications is an increased risk of osteonecrosis of the jawbone (ONJ). For patients treated with these medications for osteoporosis, the risk is less than 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 100,000 patient-years (0.001% to 0.01%). For that reason, patients should have a thorough dental exam prior to starting bisphosphonates or Prolia, and any oral surgery – like tooth extractions or dental implants – should be completed before starting therapy. Additionally, it is recommended that patients undergoing treatment for osteoporosis have regular preventative dental checks.

Prolia and bisphosphonates are valuable tools in the treatment of osteoporosis. Like all medications, they carry certain risks. Providers consider all those risks and many other factors based on each patient’s individual circumstances when they make decisions to prescribe.

Patients or their family members who have questions or concerns about Prolia – or any other medication – should talk to their providers.

If you don’t have a primary care provider, please call 216-778-2273 to schedule an appointment with a provider near you.

Visit our Rheumatology webpage for more information about Rheumatic diseases.

Dr Antonelli runs a small group clinic for Osteoporosis patients at Brecksville – for more information please call Laurel Stevens at 216 470 0658