A new study offers the millions of people who have osteoporosis the hope of taking a drug to treat it only once a year.
The New England Journal of Medicine reports that patients who got a once-a-year infusion of the Novartis drug Reclast saw a 70% reduction in the risk of spinal fractures and a 40% drop in the risk of hip fractures.
An editorial in the peer-reviewed medical journal calls the results "impressive".
Novartis hopes to win FDA approval of Reclast for post-menopausal osteoporosis by the end of this year.
It would compete in a multi-billion dollar drug segment with Roche's Boniva, Merck's Fosamax and Actonel from Sanofi-Aventis and Procter & Gamble. But many patients go off those drugs because they're cumbersome to take.
Researchers saw an abnormal heart rhythm in some Reclast patients. Novartis paid for the study.