The National Women’s Health Network has developed fact sheets on osteoporosis to help women understand what treatment options exist, what the side effects and risks are, what evidence supports their efficacy, and how to adopt non-drug approaches to preventing fracture.
Osteoporosis is a condition, more common in women than men, that causes bones to become brittle and fragile, making bones more susceptible to breaking. Currently, the only method used routinely to screen for osteoporosis is a DEXA (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) test, and unfortunately the pharmaceutical industry has been using DEXA to overdiagnose many women in an effort to expand the market for manufacturers of osteoporosis drugs.
The National Women’s Health Network has worked for decades to improve the health and well-being of older women’s quality of life. For years, women’s fractures were largely overlooked or dismissed by the medical community. Fortunately, NWHN and our allies advocated for change, and as a direct result, women’s fractures are better understood and taken more seriously than they were before.
So, you just got home from the doctor with your DEXA bone density results in hand. You were told you have osteoporosis. Should you start taking medication? Are there things you can do without medication? What information can you trust?
The National Women’s Health Network believes that the routine practice of screening for osteoporosis using imperfect technology should be balanced by increased awareness of the shortcomings of these techniques. Efforts should be focused on encouraging healthy bones and preventing fractures, not treating women with slight changes in bone density who are otherwise at low risk of fracturing.
Women want to know when it is appropriate to take a drug for osteoporosis, and which treatments are safest and most effective. History has shown that preventing loss of bone mineral density in women who are otherwise at low risk of experiencing a fracture is a dangerous strategy.
Teriparatide (brand name Forteo) and abaloparatide (brand name Tymlos) are medications used to treat osteoporosis. Forteo is a lab-made version of human parathyroid hormone (PTH) and Tymlos is a version of human parathyroid hormone-protein. These two drugs are both similar to the PTH that your body produces naturally.
The National Women’s Health Network believes women have a right to know the potential benefits and risks of osteoporosis treatment, so we took a firsthand look at the evidence. We’ve compiled a quick fact sheet about the drug so you can get the unbiased truth about how it works, how it was approved, and how effective it may be at preventing fractures.