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Osteoporosis Drug May Help Users Avoid Hip Replacement

Source: Rottenstein Law Group

Posted on September 26, 2011 Results of a new study published in Science Translational Medicine show that the osteoporosis drug Forteo (teriparatide), may be effective for rebuilding the cartilage around joints in patients who suffer from osteoarthritis, the painful degenerative condition that is the leading cause of disability in the United States.

The study’s authors are hopeful their findings will pave the way for human clinical trials that will test Forteo, a human parathyroid hormone, in patients who suffer from osteoarthritis, which can lead to the need for hip replacement or knee replacement as the only means of relief for many people.

Arthritis Sufferers Growing in Number

The medical community estimates that by the year 2030, about 67 million Americans will be suffering from osteoarthritis, about 25 percent of the adult population. Currently, there are no osteoarthritis treatments that improve cartilage in diseased joints. The only treatment short of total joint replacement is pain management, which includes anti-inflammatory medications, steroids and narcotics.

Study co-author, Dr. Michael J. Zuscik, an associate professor in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, Center for Musculoskeletal Research at the University of Rochester Medical Center, where the study was conducted, said, “We believe that a potential alternative to this cycle of pain and reduced quality of life has gone unnoticed for the past decade. Given that Forteo is already FDA approved, our experimental findings make a compelling case for further clinical study of this drug in the context of arthritis.”

Dr. Zuscik and his colleagues used mice in their study to test Forteo in laboratory experiments and found that when the drug was administered daily for one month, injured cartilage increased in thickness by as much as 32 percent. Cell production was enhanced, and genes and molecules associated with cartilage degeneration were suppressed.

Forteo Approved by FDA in 2002

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Forteo to combat osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease. Occasionally, osteoporosis sufferers will also suffer from osteoarthritis, and for those patients, their arthritis symptoms would improve when taking the drug.

Forteo, however, carries a black-box warning from the FDA, because it has been shown to cause an increased risk of osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in rats. Forteo is only recommended for short-term use – up to two years. Researchers will have to determine what effect this will have on patients’ cartilage once the drug is discontinued.

Protect Your Rights as a Consumer

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