Pill will prevent osteoporosis

A once-a-week pill that helps prevent post-menopausal women developing brittle bones was launched in the UK today.

The tablet is the first treatment for osteoporosis that can be taken every seven days.

The hope is that it will prove more convenient for women than daily pills and ensure they maintain their treatment.

Osteoporosis is a thinning and weakening of the bones that increases the risk of fractures, commonly at the hip, wrist and spine.

The disease affects one in three women, mainly those of post-menopausal age.

It is estimated that up to 20 per cent of women who suffer a hip fracture die within a year of the injury and that half the survivors are disabled.

In the UK, up to 12,000 women die each year following hip fractures due to osteoporosis.

The new pill, FOSAMEX Once Weekly 70mg, is produced by the pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp and Dohme, which already markets a 10mg daily treatment.

Dr Mike Stone, from the Bone Research Unit at Llandough Hospital, Penarth, Wales, said: 'Once weekly dosing with FOSAMEX is an entirely new concept.

'No other treatment for post-menopausal osteoporosis to prevent fractures offers women such a simple yet effective therapy.

'It offers patients a much greater degree of convenience. This is particularly important in long term conditions such as osteoporosis which often shows no symptoms.'

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