Drug Forteo for Osteoporosis

Summary: The FDA has approved Forteo (teriparatide), a new drug for osteoporosis that stimulates new bone formation. Forteo is a fragment of human parathyroid hormone (PTH), the hormone that regulates calcium metabolism in bones. The drug is given by daily injection.

Comment: Like most useful medications, Forteo may have its possible downside. In animals, it promotes the development of osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. In humans, osteosarcoma has not been reported but it remains a concern with Forteo. (The daily injections are also a downside.)

Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Editors,


November 26, 2002 -- FDA has approved teriparatide for the treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women who are at high risk for having a fracture. The drug is also approved to increase bone mass in men with primary or hypogonadal osteoporosis who are at high risk for fracture.

An estimated 10 million Americans - 80 percent of them women - suffer from osteoporosis, a progressive thinning of bones that may lead to an increased risk of spine, wrist, and hip fractures.

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