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.

Teriparatide is the first approved agent for the treatment of osteoporosis that stimulates new bone formation. Teriparatide is administered by injection once a day in the thigh or abdomen. The recommended dose is 20 mcg per day.

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