Long-Used Osteoporosis Drug May Boost Cancer Risk, Panel Says

WASHINGTON (March 5, 2013)—A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel of health experts says women should no longer use a long-established bone strengthening drug because there is little evidence it works and it may actually increase the risk of cancer.

The Food and Drug Administration panel voted 12-9 that the risks of the inhalable osteoporosis drug outweigh its benefits for postmenopausal women with brittle bones.

The drug, known chemically as calcitonin salmon, has been prescribed for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women since the 1980s.

Currently the drug is sold in nasal spray form by Novartis and Upsher-Smith, but health authorities around the world have been reviewing the drug's safety after two recent studies showed a slightly higher rate of cancer among patients taking calcitonin pills.


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