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D. An Efficient Osteoporosis Drug

Narrator: This is Science Today. A drug that's been on the market over two years, may help reduce the billions of dollars it costs annually to treat injuries related to osteoporosis. Dennis Black, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco, says alendronate - which is sold as Fosamax - increases bone mass and reduces the risk of fractures.

Black: Women who had spine fractures or who had low bone mass could benefit and have a reduction in the number of clinically apparent fractures, including hip fractures.

Narrator: Black also found women with fractures were more likely to be hospitalized for reasons unrelated to osteoporosis. This, Black says, may be because the average age of the patient studied was seventy-one - when the abililty to recover is lessened.

Black: We found that the women on alendronate were 20% less likely to be hospitalized for reasons unrelated to osteoporosis - such as pneumonia or heart disease, for example. So there are direct benefits from preventing fractures and possibly indirect benefits down the road from preventing those fractures as well.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.