History of alendronate.
Bone. 2020 May 10;:115411 Authors: Cummings SR, Santora AC, Black DM, Russell RGG
Alendronate was synthesized in 1970s in a search for inhibitors of calcification. Istituto Gentili investigators identified it as a potent inhibitor of bone resorption and obtained a patent covering its use in the treatment of osteoporosis and other disorders of excessive bone resorption in the 1980s. Merck licensed alendronate in 1988 and its pharmaceutical chemists reformulated it as a sodium salt with good solubility in a tablet that reduced its potential for esophageal irritation. Clinical trials proved that it reduced bone turnover, increased BMD and reduced the risk of vertebral fractures in postmenopausal osteoporotic women. Merck sponsored a large clinical trials that won FDA approval for treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and showed that it reduced the risk of spine and hip fractures. Its approval in the US in 1995 spurred sales of bone densitometers and BMD testing to screen for low bone mineral density and identify osteoporosis. Bone mass measurement was supported by medical society guidelines and reimbursement by Medicare and other insurers in the USA. Approval of a larger weekly dose of alendronate that produced the same effect on BMD and biochemical markers of bone remodelling with greater convenience and reduced potential for upper GI adverse events. Consequently, by 2006, about 30 million prescriptions for alendronate were written annually in the U.S. for about 15% of postmenopausal women in the U.S. Thereafter, publicity about rare but concerning atypical femoral fractures (AFF) and osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) along with the expiry of Merck's patent (in 2008) and cessation of their promotion of alendronate, and a decline in use of densitometry led to a steady slide in its use even among patients for whom the benefits of alendronate far outweigh its potential risks. Nevertheless, in 25 years since its regulatory approval, alendronate has undoubtedly prevented millions of fractures world-wide. PMID: 32437874 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]