By: Caroline Schmidt
Recently, a new drug was approved by the FDA that will improve the lives of many people suffering from the most common bone disease in the world: Osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis affects nearly 30% of men and women. This disease causes weaker and less dense bone mass, resulting in very high risks of fractures and broken bones, mainly located in the hip and spine bones. According to the International Osteoporosis foundation, “1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men aged fifty years and over are at risk of an osteoporotic fracture.” About 200 million people around the world are currently diagnosed with this disease.
Osteoporosis means “porous bone” Healthy human bone has a spongy honeycomb-like structure. Osteoporotic bone is less dense, with larger spaces between bone tissue. Until we are young adults, our bones are constantly growing, creating a healthier, more dense bone through cells called osteoblasts. Bone density increases due to a process called bone remodeling. This is when the formation of bone tissue is higher than the amount of bone matrix dissolved by bone cells called osteoclasts. As we age, the amount of new bone tissue is about equal to the amount of bone lost. Factors such as calcium deprivation or lack of estrogen can cause too much bone matrix to dissolve.
When a patient is diagnosed with Osteoporosis, many patients receive hormone therapy, as well as drugs. The most common prescription drugs are bisphosphonates such as Alendronate, risedronate, ibandronate, and zoledronic acid. All of these drugs attach to the surface of bones, and slow down the action of osteoclasts, so osteoblasts can build up the bone faster than it can dissolve. Although bisphosphonates slow down bone loss, they do not stimulate bone growth. In 2019, the FDA (Food and Drug Association) approved a new drug called romosozumab (EVENITY) that has the benefits of bisphosphonates, which slow down bone deterioration. In addition, it also spurs the growth of new bone cells. According to Cleveland Clinic, EVENITY builds bone better than any other method of osteoporosis treatment. EVENITY is an injection, which increases bone mineral density because of its antibiotic effect. Most osteoporosis drugs like alendronate are pills taken on a daily basis, whereas EVENITY is an injection, requiring only 12 monthly doses. According to a stage III clinical trial, the use of romosozumab during a 12 month period resulted in a lower risk of fractures than the use of placebo. In another stage II clinical trial, romosozumab was given to women to monitor their bone growth. The drug increased hip and neck bone by 4%, and increased spine bone by 12%. EVENITY’s dual action in slowing bone dissolving and promoting bone growth makes it a great method of treatment. Both its effectiveness and efficiency in treating osteoporosis make romosozumab (EVENITY) number one on Cleveland Clinic’s list of the top 10 Medical innovations of 2020.