Osteoporosis can be a crippling bone disorder. It's more common after menopause and for the last decade, doctors have been prescribing bone-strengthening medications to millions of women over 50 to prevent fractures.
Now the federal Food and Drug Administration says that an analysis of bone medications indicates that their effectiveness wears off after three to five years.
The drugs, which belong to a class of medications called bisphosphonates, have been heavily advertized and promoted by drug companies who have hired celebrities to extol their benefits. Sales have skyrocketed - to hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
But all along, many bone experts have questioned whether it made sense to prescribe these drugs to women who didn't actually have osteoporosis but rather low bone mineral density that might never progress to actual disease. There is convincing evidence that for at least some of these women, special exercise and dietary change may be more effective than medication.
If you have been taking these drugs, you should talk to your doctor about whether it's a good idea to continue taking them. Make sure you understand the risks and benefits.