Forteo For Fractures
Dr Susan V Bukata and her colleagues report that Forteo (teriparatide) helped promote healing of hard-to-mend fractures in the elderly and others. Their findings were reported at the February meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society.
Forteo is a drug used to treat severe osteoporosis. It is a fragment of the parathyroid hormone, containing 34 amino acids compared with the 84 in the intact hormone. In 2003 Eli Lilly & Co. received approval to market teriparatide under the brand name Forteo for treatment of severe osteoporosis. Physicians have noted faster healing of fractures in their elderly patients who were on Forteo for osteoporosis. This led Dr Bukata and her colleagues to do a formal study.
In their preliminary study, 135 of 145 patients (93%) who had unhealed bone fractures had significant healing after only eight to 12 weeks on Forteo. Some of the patients had fractures that had failed to heal for six months. Six other patients had partial healing, but were more comfortable and had less pain.
An estimated 5% of the 6 million fractures suffered by Americans each year are slow to heal or do not heal at all, and as many as a quarter of the elderly with pelvic and hip fractures die within a year as a result of their injuries.
No adverse effects were noted. The biggest drawback to treatment using Forteo is the cost, about $800 per month. However, the offset to this cost will be the savings of a patient’s stay in the nursing home after a hip or pelvic fracture being reduced by a week or two.
The Rochester team is beginning a placebo-controlled trial, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, on people with pelvic fractures and another on spinal fractures.