Forteo is a prescription medicine used to treat osteoporosis. Specifically, it is used for increasing bone mineral density in men and reducing the risk of fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. It comes in an injectable form that is administered once daily in the abdomen or thigh. While most people tolerate Forteo well, potential side effects of the drug include dizziness, joint pain, and leg cramps.
What Is Forteo?
Forteo™ (teriparatide) is a prescription medication approved to treat men and women with osteoporosis who are at a high risk for fractures (broken bones). Unlike most other osteoporosis medications, Forteo cannot be taken orally; instead, it is taken as a daily injection.
Forteo is a manufactured version of parathyroid hormone (PTH), a naturally occurring hormone that regulates calcium and phosphate in the body. PTH can have beneficial or harmful effects on the bone, depending on the pattern of exposure to PTH. Having high PTH all the time (known medically as hyperparathyroidism) can lead to bone loss. However, when PTH is given once a day (such as with Forteo), it seems to have the opposite effect, helping to build new bone.
How Effective Is It?
This medication has been evaluated in several studies for various osteoporosis-related uses.
Forteo and Postmenopausal Women
Forteo has been evaluated in four studies of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. In these studies, taking Forteo (along with calcium and vitamin D) reduced the risk of vertebral fractures (broken spinal bones) by 65 percent, compared to women who took just calcium and vitamin D. Forteo also reduced the risk of non-vertebral fractures (broken bones other than the spine) by 53 percent. Also, women taking it showed increased bone mineral density, compared to the women not taking the drug.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Forteo [package insert]. Indianapolis, IN: Eli Lilly and Company;2009 July.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed August 8, 2007.
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