Anna Liachenko, BSc, MSc
While non-pharmacological approaches are clearly beneficial for prevention of osteoporosis (OP), for many women these measures are not enough and a pharmacological treatment is required. Until early this decade, this meant one choice, hormone replacement therapy. Now, non-hormonal bisphosphonate treatments are also available. Both approaches are comparably efficient in preventing bone loss, at least on repeat bone mineral density testing. Some experts are also advocating slow-release fluoride, and combination therapy is also increasing. However, treatment choice is a complex decision which should only be made after careful consideration of the risks and benefits of each treatment, by the patient and her physician.
Before reviewing particular classes of drugs, physicians need to remember that all patients at risk for OP or with proven OP should be taking calcium and vitamin D in appropriate doses (see Fracture Prevention Part 1).