FRIDAY, Oct. 12, 2018 (HealthDay News) — The risk for fragility fractures is significantly lower in women with osteopenia who receive zoledronate than in those who receive placebo, according to a study published online Oct. 1 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Ian R. Reid, M.D., from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and colleagues randomly assigned 2,000 older women (≥65 years) with osteopenia to receive four infusions of zoledronate (5 mg) or normal saline (placebo group) at 18-month intervals over six years. In addition, all participants were advised to consume 1 g of calcium daily, and those not already taking vitamin D supplements received cholecalciferol before the trial began (a single dose of 2.5 mg) and during the trial (1.25 mg per month).

The researchers found that a fragility fracture occurred in 190 women in the placebo group and 122 women in the zoledronate group (hazard ratio [HR] with zoledronate, 0.63). To prevent the occurrence of a fracture, the number of women who would need to be treated was 15. More specifically, women who received zoledronate had a lower risk for non-vertebral fragility fractures (HR, 0.66), symptomatic fractures (HR, 0.73), vertebral fractures (odds ratio, 0.45), and height loss compared with those in the placebo group.

“The current trial showed that treatment with zoledronate every 18 months, with minimal use of calcium supplements, reduced the risk of fragility fractures (vertebral and non-vertebral) over the course of six years in older women with hip bone mineral density characterized as osteopenia,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Novartis, which provided the trial medication.

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