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How Effective Is Denosumab for Osteoporosis?

By Lee Johnson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Using denosumab for osteoporosis appears to be an effective treatment according to studies that have been performed on it. When compared against a placebo and another leading drug, alendronate, denosumab has been shown to be more effective than the placebo and either as effective as or even more effective than alendronate. Measurements of the patients’ bone mineral density are taken after treatment with the drug to determine its effectiveness. Also, denosumab for osteoporosis has to be taken only twice per year, which might increase patients’ compliance with their treatment schedules.

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes weakness and fragility in the bones and therefore usually is characterized by common breaks of the hips, wrist and spine. The condition is particularly prevalent in women who have gone through menopause, but it also can occur in children, men and pre-menopausal women. Although bones generally are thought of as being solid, they actually are composed of several layers of mesh with hexagonal holes in it. The holes within this mesh are very small when the bone is healthy, but in patients who are suffering from osteoporosis, these holes are much larger. This reduces the density of the bones and therefore makes bone breakages more likely.

Denosumab is classified as a monoclonal antibody that was derived from humans and primarily acts on the nuclear factor kappa-B ligand receptor activator. The drug is primarily intended to be used by women suffering from osteoporosis as a result of the menopause, but it also has been used in men who have contracted osteoporosis as a result of prostate cancer treatment. Denosumab for osteoporosis is administered in the form of a twice-yearly subcutaneous injections. The rates of adherence to osteoporosis treatment regimens are very low, with only about one-fourth of patients sticking to the schedule, and the relatively low frequency of the injections makes denosumab an attractive prospect.

Many studies have been done on the effects of denosumab for osteoporosis in menopausal women. Researchers have looked at the number of fractures that occurred during the treatment period and have recorded the bone density of the patients. Denosumab also has been compared with alendronate, a common bisphosphonate osteoporosis medication and a placebo drug. Overall, denosumab has been shown to perform better than a placebo and slightly better than alendronate.

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