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Clinic visits and hospital admissions for care of acid-related upper gastrointestinal disorders in women using alendronate for osteoporosis

CONTEXT: About 1 in 3 women taking alendronate for osteoporosis report gastrointestinal symptoms, a rate much higher than that found during clinical trials. OBJECTIVE: To establish the frequency of outpatient visits and hospital admissions for acid-related upper gastrointestinal disorder (ARD) among women taking alendronate and to identify potential risk factors. METHODS: A retrospective database analysis identified 812 women with osteoporosis who had filled one or more 10-mg alendronate prescriptions from October 1995 through October 1996. RESULTS: One hundred (12.3%) of the 812 women received healthcare for ARD, a clinical encounter rate of 28.5 per 100 person-years. A reference group of 362,109 women from the same health plan had 17.6 ARD encounters per 100 person-years. Excluding women who had ARDs before receiving alendronate, alendronate users were 1.6 (95% CI = 1.2, 2.7) times more likely to have an ARD encounter than nonusers. Risk of having ARD increased with age [users aged 70 years and older had a relative risk of 1.5 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.0-2.30) compared with younger women] and with concurrent use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) (relative risk 1.7, 95% CI 1.1-2.6). CONCLUSIONS: Elderly alendronate users or those concurrently taking NSAIDS should be carefully monitored because of their high risk of having ARD. Cost/benefit analyses of alendronate treatment for osteoporosis should include costs of treating ARD.

Authors: Ettinger B; Pressman A; Schein J

Am J Manag Care. 1998 Oct;4(10):1377-82.

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