Strontium ranelate for preventing and treating postmenopausal osteoporosis
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BACKGROUND: Strontium ranelate is a new anti-osteoporosis therapy therefore, its benefits and harms need to be known. OBJECTIVES: To determine the efficacy and safety of strontium ranelate for the treatment and prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched MEDLINE (1996 to March 2005), EMBASE (1996 to week 9 2005), the Cochrane Library (1996 to Issue 1 2005), reference lists of relevant articles and conference proceedings from the last two years. Additional data was sought from authors and industry sponsors. SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of at least one year duration comparing strontium ranelate versus placebo reporting fracture incidence, bone mineral density (BMD), health related quality of life and/or safety outcomes in postmenopausal women. Treatment (versus prevention) population was defined as women with prevalent vertebral fractures and/or lumbar spine BMD T score < -2.5 SD. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers independently determined study eligibility, assessed trial quality and extracted the relevant data. Disagreements were resolved by consensus. RCTs were grouped by dose of strontium ranelate and treatment duration. Where possible, meta-analysis was conducted using the random effects model. MAIN RESULTS: A total of four trials met our inclusion criteria, three of which investigated the effects of strontium ranelate compared to placebo in a treatment population (doses ranged from 0.5 to 2 g daily) and one, in a prevention population (doses 0.125, 0.5 and 1 g daily). In osteoporotic, postmenopausal women a 37% reduction in vertebral fractures (two trials, n = 5082, RR 0.63, 95% CI 0.56 to 0.71) and a 14% reduction in non-vertebral fractures (two trials, n = 6572, RR 0.86, 95% CI 0.75 to 0.98) was demonstrated over a three year period with 2 g of strontium ranelate daily. An increase in BMD at all sites was shown with the same dose: lumbar spine BMD (two trials, n = 1614, WMD adjusted for strontium content 5.44, 95% CI 3.41 to 7.46 and WMD not adjusted 11.29, 95% CI 10.22 to 12.37 over two years), femoral neck and total hip (two trials, n = 4230, WMD 8.25, 95% CI 7.84 to 8.66 and WMD 9.83, 95% CI 9.39 to 10.26 respectively over three years). One gram of strontium ranelate daily in postmenopausal women without osteoporosis increased BMD at all sites over a two year period: lumbar spine (one trial, n = 59, WMD adjusted for strontium content 2.39, 95% CI 0.15 to 4.63 and WMD not adjusted 6.68, 95% CI 5.16 to 8.20), femoral neck (one trial, n= 60, WMD 2.52, 95%CI 0.96 to 4.09) and total hip (one trial, n = 60, WMD 1.02, 95% CI 0.48 to 1.56). In both the treatment and prevention populations, lower doses of strontium ranelate were superior to placebo with the highest dose of strontium ranelate demonstrating the greatest reduction in vertebral fractures and increase in BMD. There is some evidence to suggest that 2 g of strontium ranelate daily compared to placebo may have a beneficial effect on health related quality of life in postmenopausal women after three years of treatment. Two grams of strontium ranelate daily increased the risk of diarrhea (RR 1.38%, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.87); however, adverse events did not affect the risk of discontinuing strontium ranelate nor did it increase the risk of serious side effects, gastritis or death. Additional data obtained suggests that the risk of vascular system disorders including venous thromboembolism (two trials, n = 6669, 2.2% versus 1.5%, OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1 to 2.1) and pulmonary embolism (two trials, n = 6669, 0.8% versus 0.4%, OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.0 to 3.1) as well as nervous system disorders such as headaches (3.9% versus 2.9%), seizures (0.3% versus 0.1%), memory loss (2.4% versus 1.9%) and disturbance in consciousness (2.5% versus 2.0%) is slightly increased with taking 2 g of strontium ranelate daily over a 3 to 4 year period. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: There is silver level evidence to support the efficacy of strontium ranelate for the reduction of vertebral fractures (and to a lesser extent non-vertebral fractures) in postmenopausal osteoporotic women and an increase in BMD (all sites) in postmenopausal women with and without osteoporosis. Diarrhea may occur however, adverse events leading to study withdrawal were not significantly increased in the strontium ranelate group. Potential risks to the vascular and neurological system associated with taking 2 g of strontium ranelate daily need to be further explored and quantified.
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