The Good and the Bad About the 2017 American College of Physicians Osteoporosis Guidelines

Violet Lagari, Tara Gavcovich, Silvina Levis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose The American College of Physicians (ACP) published a set of guidelines on how to prevent fractures in men and women with low bone density or osteoporosis. As the population ages, the overall risk of fractures increases, thus burdening the health care system. These guidelines review current evidence for osteoporosis management, providing an update to the previous 2008 ACP's guidelines. Methods The ACP put forth 6 recommendations addressing the complexities in osteoporosis management based on evidence available through October 2016 with a focus on bisphosphonates, calcium, vitamin D, and estrogen. Evidence was graded according to recommended strength by using the ACP standard methods. Findings The ACP recommends anti-osteoporosis therapy with 1 of 3 bisphosphonates (alendronate, risedronate, or zoledronic acid) or denosumab in patients with osteoporosis, while excluding anabolic therapies, and recommends against raloxifene. Although bisphosphonates are the mainstay of treatment, anabolic therapy and raloxifene may be used in specific situations. Pharmacologic therapy is recommended for 5 years, oversimplifying length of therapy and failing to promote an individualized patient-centered care approach. Moreover, abrupt discontinuation of denosumab is associated with a decline in bone mineral density (BMD), which must be addressed. Routine monitoring of BMD by dual x-ray absorptiometry is not endorsed during treatment, which leads to underrecognition of management issues. Pharmacologic treatment with bisphosphonates for male osteoporosis is recommended, although therapies such as denosumab and teriparatide are excluded. Finally, the ACP recommends treatment for women aged ≥65 years at high risk for fracture with osteopenia after a discussion of patient preferences, fracture risk profile, and medications. Implications Osteoporosis management is complex. The 2017 ACP guidelines address challenges faced by clinicians but oversimplify more complex issues. These are among a number of guidelines that are available for osteoporosis management, which may be used in combination with other sources to assist clinicians with diagnostic and management strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-176
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • commentary
  • fracture
  • guidelines
  • osteoporosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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