Long-term use of the family of diabetes drugs that includes rosiglitazone and pioglitazone doubles the risk of bone fractures in women, but not in men, according to a new analysis of several large clinical trials. Diabetic women are already at a higher than normal risk of fractures, experts said, so a doubling of risk could have a substantial effect. Use of the drugs for at least a year in women older than 70 would result in at least one additional fracture among every 21 women, Singh and colleagues reported. The drugs would produce an additional fracture for every 55 women between the ages of 55 and 70, they said.
As estimated 4 million Americans take the drugs, about half of them women, researchers said. Rosiglitazone is sold under the brand name Avandia by GlaxoSmithKline. Pioglitazone is sold as Actos by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. The researchers combined results from 10 clinical trials that included 13,717 diabetics. They found that the drugs reduced bone density in the spine and hips of the elderly women, increasing the risk of fractures.