The FDA recently updated healthcare professionals and patients about its ongoing review of the use of oral bisphosphonate drugs and their link to an increased risk for esophageal cancer. The agency has not concluded that taking an oral bisphosphonate will, in fact, increase the risk for cancer but announced that it will continue to evaluate all available data regarding the safety and effectiveness of bisphosphonate drugs, updated the public accordingly.
Bisphosphonates are often used for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and bone diseases like Paget’s disease. The FDA issued its warning following reports that esophagitis and esophageal problems occurred in patients who did not follow the proper directions for use of oral bisphosphonates. Some examples of oral bisphosphonates include: Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva, Atelvia, Didronel and Skelid.
Patients currently taking oral bisphosphonates should contact their healthcare professional and discuss the risk and benefits associated with taking the medication. Patients taking the drugs who experience difficulty swallowing, chest pain or heartburn should contact their doctor.