Duration of Bisphosphonate Drug Holidays and Associated Fracture Risk

Academic Article


  • Background:Discontinuation of bisphosphonates (BP) or a "drug holiday"after several years of treatment is increasingly common. However, the association of drug holiday duration with future fracture risk is unclear.Objectives:We evaluated the rate of fracture in relation to various lengths of drug holidays among women receiving long-term BP therapy.Research Design:Observational cohort study using US Medicare data 2006-2016. Incidence rates (IRs) and Cox proportional hazards models were used to evaluate the rate and adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) controlling for potential confounders.Subjects:Women aged 65 years and above enrolled in fee-for-service Medicare who had been adherent (≥80%) to alendronate, risedronate, or zoledronate for ≥3 years.Measures:Hip, humerus, distal forearm, and clinical vertebral fracture.Results:Among 81,427 eligible women observed for a median (interquartile range) of 4.0 (2.5, 5.3) years, 28% of women underwent a drug holiday. In the alendronate cohort (73% overall), the IR of hip fracture among women who discontinued BP for >2 years was 13.2 per 1000 person-years. Risk was increased (aHR=1.3, 1.1-1.4) versus continuing therapy (IR=8.8, referent). Rates were elevated for humerus fracture with discontinuation >2 years (aHR=1.3, 1.1-1.66) and for clinical vertebral fracture with discontinuation >2 years (aHR=1.2, 1.1-1.4). Results were similar for risedronate, zoledronate, and ibandronate for hip and clinical vertebral fracture.Conclusion:Discontinuing alendronate beyond 2 years was associated with increased risk of hip, humerus, and clinical vertebral fractures.
  • Published In

  • Medical Care  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Curtis JR; Saag KG; Arora T; Wright NC; Yun H; Daigle S; Matthews R; Delzell E
  • Start Page

  • 419
  • End Page

  • 426
  • Volume

  • 58
  • Issue

  • 5