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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU Finds Drugs Play Role in Fractures Among Elderly

A new study co-authored by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher suggests that better management of certain high-risk drugs may help to reduce the incidence of secondary fractures.

The study team — co-authored by Dr. Christine McDonough, BUSPH research assistant professor of health law, policy and management — looked at the association between prescription drugs and fracture risk among older adults who had already experienced a first fragility fracture.

The researchers identified 21 drug classes that have been associated with increased fracture risk. After examining the medications as a single group, the team subdivided them into three groups: drugs believed to increase fracture risk by increasing the risk of falls; those that decrease bone density; and those in which the mechanism that caused greater fracture risk was unclear. Medicare Part D retail pharmacy claims were used to measure fills for prescriptions associated with increased fracture risk, both before and after a fracture occurred.

The study found that more than three-quarters of patients were exposed to at least one non-opiate drug associated with an increased fracture risk in the four months before their fractures. Only about 7 percent of patients discontinued those drugs after their fractures. That decrease was offset by new users, so that the total proportion exposed to high-risk drugs did not change.

To read more about the study, go to: