Osteoporosis: moving beyond bisphosphonates

Bisphosphonates are the mainstay of osteoporosis treatment but as more is elucidated about the underlying pathology of the condition, new drug targets are being investigated.

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Prevalence and burden of osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a relatively common disease, affecting more women than men. Disease burden is significant, particularly in older individuals, with osteoporotic fractures leading to reduced function and loss of independence.


A complex disorder

Osteoporosis is a complex disorder characterised by an imbalance in the bone remodelling process, which is governed by intricate interactions between various hormones, cytokines and a novel regulatory system. This imbalance leads to lower bone density, which culminates in bone fracture.


Treatment targets

Osteoporosis treatments target different processes within the bone remodelling cycle.


Osteoporosis treatments

Licensed treatments for osteoporosis reduce the risk of fractures, but are associated with various adverse effects — the risks and benefits should be weighed up for each patient. Several novel treatments are in the development pipeline.


Sources: International Osteoporosis Foundation; National Osteoporosis Guideline Group; NHS Digital.

Graphics: Alisdair Macdonald (alisdairmacdonald.co.uk). 

Editorial advisers: Jon Tobias, Professor of Rheumatology, University of Bristol. Ebraheem Junaid, lead pharmacist medicines information, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. 



Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, November 2016, Vol 297, No 7895;297(7895):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20201978

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