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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Safety

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Bisphosphonates marketed as Alendronate (Fosamax, Fosamax Plus D), Etidronate (Didronel), Ibandronate (Boniva), Pamidronate (Aredia), Risedronate (Actonel, Actonel W/Calcium), Tiludronate (Skelid), and Zoledronic acid (Reclast, Zometa)

Audience: Geriatricians, gynecologists, orthopedic surgeons, other healthcare professionals, consumers

[Posted 10/01/2007] FDA issued an early communication about the ongoing review of new safety data regarding the association of atrial fibrillation with the use of bisphosphonates. Bisphosphonates are a class of drugs used primarily to increase bone mass and reduce the risk for fracture in patients with osteoporosis, slow bone turnover in patients with Paget’s disease of the bone, treat bone metastases, and lower elevated levels of blood calcium in patients with cancer.

FDA reviewed spontaneous postmarketing reports of atrial fibrillation reported in association with oral and intravenous bisphosphonates and did not identify a population of bisphosphonate users at increased risk of atrial fibrillation. In addition, as part of the data review for the recent approval of once-yearly Reclast for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis, FDA evaluated the possible association between atrial fibrillation and the use of Reclast. Most cases of atrial fibrillation occurred more than a month after drug infusion. Also, in a subset of patients monitored by electrocardiogram up to the 11th day following infusion, there was no significant difference in the prevalence of atrial fibrillation between patients who received Reclast and patients who received placebo.

Upon initial review, it is unclear how these data on serious atrial fibrillation should be interpreted. Therefore, FDA does not believe that healthcare providers or patients should change either their prescribing practices or their use of bisphosphonates at this time.

[October 2007 - Early Communication - FDA]