Late in 2019, a Good Times reader wrote a letter to our ‘Your Health Questions’ column, worried about a friend, who, at 90, seemed to come down with a new problem after getting an injection of a drug intended to reduce her risk of osteoporosis-related bone fractures.
Was there any evidence to back up the reader’s hunch that the drug might be dangerous for an older individual in frail health?
Treating any health condition gets trickier when a person is in their 80s or beyond.
And different people have widely varying views on whether it’s worth taking a medication that’s intended to prevent something from happening, as opposed to say, fighting an infection, or treating symptoms.
Ideally, a health care provider offers information about the risks and benefits, then leaves the decision in the hands of the individual who has to live with the consequences.
We spoke to two physicians about the factors that go into deciding whether to prescribe the osteoporosis medication in question, as well as how many people who take it are spared different types of fractures, and how many will experience a particular side-effect.
A belated thank-you to the two interviewees who so generously shared their time and expertise:
- Dr. Kristin Clemens, an endocrinologist with the Osteoporosis and Bone Disease Program at St. Joseph’s Health Care London; an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, and an adjunct scientist at ICES Western in London, Ont.
- Dr. Dee Mangin, the David Braley Nancy Gordon Chair in family medicine and professor in the department of family medicine within the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.