McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Mac prof leads review of osteoporosis medication

Published: June 10, 2008
Alyia Khan
Dr. Alyia Khan, clinical professor of medicine

In a Canadian study released earlier this year researchers warned that millions of people taking a certain class of osteoporosis drugs were at risk of the painful bone condition, osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) or dead bone.

As a result, a task force was established by the Canadian Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and a systematic review was undertaken to determine if there is a link between bisphosphonate use and ONJ and to further understand the role of other important risk factors in ONJ such as dental work, diabetes and vascular disease.

The review has led to the development of Canadian guidelines on the diagnosis, prevention and management of the condition being published on-line this week in the Journal of Rheumatology:

While high-dose intravenous bisphosphonates have been identified as a risk factor for ONJ in the oncology patient population, the review showed that low-dose bisphosphonate use in patients with osteoporosis or other metabolic bone disease has not been shown to cause the development of ONJ. 

Dr. Alyia Khan, a clinical professor of medicine at McMaster University, who led the review, says: 

The task force also recommends that a registry be maintained of all identified cases, as this will provide valuable information regarding the strength of associations of risk factors for ONJ.

The project was supported and endorsed by 7 national and international societies:

  • Canadian Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (CAOMS)
  • Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism (CSEM)
  • Ontario Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (OSOMS)
  • Canadian Academy of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology and Oral Medicine (CAOMPOM)
  • American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE)
  • International Bone & Mineral Society (IBMS)
  • International Society of Clinical Densitometry (ISCD)
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