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Bone Drugs Linked to Esophageal Cancer in New Study

Filed May 31st, 2012 Laurie

Bisphosphonate bone drugs may pose a bigger esophageal cancer risk than previously thought – especially the drug Fosamax, according to an adverse event surveillance study. Beatrice J. Edwards, MD, of Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues carried out the study.

The Food and Drug Administration received 128 reports of bisphosphonate-associated esophageal cancer to its adverse events reporting system from 1995 to 2010. That risk appeared disproportionate with alendronate, the group reported in an abstract ahead of the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago taking place this week.

Alendronate accounted for 75 percent of the esophageal cancers seen with bisphosphonates in the FDA database. Alendronate likewise had an empiric Bayes geometric mean of 6.3, suggesting that the esophageal cancer cases were more common with bisphosphonates than with other drugs in the database.

The esophageal cancer events they found associated with bisphosphonate use were 96 cases with alendronate, 14 with risedronate, 10 with ibandronate, seven with zoledronic acid, and one with pamidronate (Aredia).

There were three reports of Barrett’s esophagus, which led researchers to recommend that patients with the cancer risk and patients with persistent mucosal abnormalities avoid taking oral bisphosphonates.

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