Bone drugs from Warner Chilcott Plc, Roche Holding AG, Merck & Co. and Novartis AG need labeling changes to reduce the risk of fractures, a U.S. panel said.
The companies should add clarifications on the length of time that osteoporosis patients may take the medicines, outside advisers to the Food and Drug Administration said today in a 17- 6 vote in Adelphi, Maryland. The FDA isn’t required to follow its panels’ recommendations.
The agency has evaluated the safety of the drugs, known as bisphosphonates, for almost four years and cited possible links to unusual thigh fractures and jawbone deterioration in 2010. The agency said in July it also was examining conflicting studies on whether bisphosphonate pills such as Warner Chilcott’s Actonel, Merck’s Fosamax and Roche’s Boniva raise esophageal cancer risks.
A revised label should “be very clear that efficacy may fall off after a period of time, perhaps five years,” panelist Lewis Nelson, director of the medical toxicology fellowship program at New York University, said after the vote. “Serious concerns have been raised about risk, and those need to be continually evaluated as well.”
There needs to be additional research, period.
Mere warning labels are not going to answer the questions from every day patients – how long do I take the medicine and what protocol do I use? Or, what is the chance my femur will fracture or will I develop osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) if I have a tooth removed.