Drug helps reduce deaths after hip fracture, study finds

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A bone-strengthening agent called zoledronic acid significantly reduced hip-fracture deaths in elderly who have suffered a hip fracture, according to a new study. It reportedly is the first time any treatment has been shown to cut mortality in such patients.

The report, which will appear in the Nov. 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that yearly infusions of the agent reduced deaths by 28% and new fractures by 35% over a two-year period. Zoledronic acid is sold under the brand Reclast by Novartis. Oral bone-strengthening drugs include Fosamax, Actonel and Boniva.

About 300,000 elderly Americans are hospitalized yearly with hip fractures, and as many as 25% of the victims die within the first year after their injuries. The majority of victims remain confined to nursing homes for the rest of their lives.