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What Medicines Can Help Strengthen My Bones?

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Published on March 3, 2020

Key Takeaways

Multiple myeloma expert Dr. Dan Vogl, from the Abramson Cancer Center at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, answers a patient question on whether there are other bone-strengthening medicines for those who cannot tolerate bisphosphonates. Watch as Dr. Vogl discusses options as well as side effects. 

This program is sponsored by GSK. This organization has no editorial control. It is produced by Patient Power. Patient Power is solely responsible for program content.

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Transcript | What Medicines Can Help Strengthen My Bones?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:         

Hello, I am Andrew Schorr with Patient Power, and we are in Orlando, Florida for this live myeloma Ask the Expert program. Let me introduce our guests. So, our two wonderful guests; immediately to my right is Dr. Frits van Rhee, he is the Director of the Myeloma Program at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences in Little Rock, did I get it right?

Dr. van Rhee:             

You got it right, thank you.

Andrew Schorr:         

Okay, thank you. And to his right, is Dr. Dan Vogl, who is a myeloma specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Medicine. Thank you both for being with us. I should mention that Dr. Vogl is also the specialist who treats our dear friend Cindy Chmielewski, many people know, “Myeloma Teacher” on the Internet. And fortunately, I have to say Cindy’s doing well, so we’re really delighted. Okay, gentlemen, are you ready for some questions from the patients?

Dr. van Rhee and Dr. Vogl:   

Yes. 

Andrew Schorr:         

Here’s a question we got in from Joanne. Joanne, Dr. Vogl, says, “For patients that cannot take bisphosphonates for strengthening their bones, what bone-building therapies are coming, or what else is recommended to protect from bone loss?”

Dr. Vogl:                     

A few years ago, we saw the introduction of a new bone-strengthening medicine called denosumab or Xgeva, which works by a completely different mechanism. So, some of the side effects that come with the bisphosphonates, you don’t see with denosumab, and that can make it a really effective alternative for people who can’t tolerate zoledronate (Reclast or Zometa) or other bisphosphonates. And also, possibly even as the main bone-strengthening medicine that we would use for most patients, there’s a very nice trial showing pretty similar results with both medications. And so, I think either one can be a good option.

Both of them do have the main side effect of potentially injuring the jawbone, which we call osteonecrosis of the jaw, and so, you can’t get away right now from those side effects. I’m not aware of any new options that are coming out that are going to advance our ability to control bone disease from myeloma. But the truth is those drugs are pretty effective, especially when combined with effective chemotherapy medicines to treat the myeloma itself.

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