Alendronate reduces the risk of multiple symptomatic fractures: Results from the Fracture Intervention Trial

Silvina Levis, Sara A. Quandt, Desmond Thompson, Jean Scott, Diane L. Schneider, Philip D. Ross, Dennis Black, Shailaja Suryawanshi, Marc Hochberg, John Yates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effect of alendronate on the occurrence rate of multiple symptomatic fractures and on the risk of multiple symptomatic fractures (likelihood of having more than one fracture diagnosed because of the symptoms the fractures caused over the study period) among women with osteoporosis. DESIGN: Primary analysis of data from a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. SETTING: Eleven community-based clinical research centers. PARTICIPANTS: Subset of women enrolled in the Fracture Intervention Trial: aged 55 to 81 and having at least one morphometric vertebral fracture at baseline (n = 2,027) or having no vertebral fracture but meeting prevailing World Health Organization bone mineral density criteria for osteoporosis (T-score≤-2.5 at the femoral neck) (n = 1,631). INTERVENTION: All participants reporting calcium intake of 1,000 mg/day or less received a supplement of 500 mg calcium and 250 IU cholecalciferol. Participants were randomly assigned to placebo or alendronate sodium (5 mg/day for 2 years and 10 mg/day for the remainder of the study). Average total follow-up was 4.3 years. MEASUREMENTS: Symptomatic fractures were diagnosed by personal physicians and confirmed by review of radiological data by an expert committee blinded to treatment assignments. RESULTS: Eighty-six of 1,817 women receiving placebo experienced multiple symptomatic fractures during the follow-up period, compared with 51 of 1,841 receiving alendronate. Reduction of risk for multiple symptomatic fractures combined was 42% (relative risk (RR) = 0.58, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.41, 0.81) and for multiple symptomatic vertebral fractures was 84% (RR = 0.16, 95% CI = 0.05, 0.42). Cumulative incidence curves showed divergence after as little as 3 months of treatment, with a statistically significant (P = .044) reduction at 6 months for multiple symptomatic vertebral fractures. When all fractures over the follow-up period were included, the occurrence rates of all symptomatic fractures and symptomatic vertebral fractures were 34% and 63% lower, respectively, with alendronate than with placebo. These reductions were sustained during the follow-up period. All reductions in risk were consistent across predefined subgroups: age (<75 vs ≥75), morphometric vertebral fracture (present vs absent), prior clinical fracture since age 45 (yes vs no), and whether the subject had fallen in the 12 months before randomization. CONCLUSIONS: These data demonstrate that treatment with alendronate reduces the risk of multiple symptomatic fractures during a treatment period averaging 4.3 years. The reductions were consistent across prespecified subgroups. This effect is evident early in treatment and is sustained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-415
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002


  • Alendronate
  • Fractures
  • Osteoporosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


Dive into the research topics of 'Alendronate reduces the risk of multiple symptomatic fractures: Results from the Fracture Intervention Trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this