Monterey, CA Fosamax, Other Osteoporosis Drug Safety : Differing Views : View From A Private Duty Caregiverby Richard Kuehn on 05/04/12
There have been a number of troubling stories in the press recently about scientific studies which have been debunked by further research and another article appeared today in the Wall Street Journal which discussed two different research projects which analyzed the exact same data and came to completely different conclusions. The studies were designed to discover whether osteoporosis drugs increased the risk of esophageal cancer. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no increase in the risk of cancer. Another study, which ran just three weeks later in the British Medical Journal, said there was a risk of cancer, but it's low. It's not uncommon for two research projects using different patients or datasets to come up with different conclusions. There are a lot of outside factors which can impact studies. Although scientists try to control for these, they're not always successful. However, it is uncommon for two sets of scientists to look at the exact same data and come up with different results. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now examining the studies so it can throw in its opinion in regarding the safety of the drugs called oral bisphosphonates which were analyzed. Millions of people take these drugs so it's important to get to the bottom of this issue quickly. My grandmother was on one of these drugs, Merck & Company's Fosamax, which has been prescribed 190 million times since 1995. Unfortunately, as technology has advanced, more researchers have been turning towards observational studies which are basically data mining subjects, not the more reliable randomly controlled experimental studies. The number of observational studies has more than tripled from 80,000 between 1990-2000 to 263,557 between 2001-2011, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science. This is an unfortunate trend, because when computers are crunching through a massive amount of data, they can miss the human element and miss other mitigating factors which would be noticed in an experiment where scientists were studying humans, not just raw data.