Clinical Rheumatology

, Volume 29, Issue 10, pp 1079–1084 | Cite as

The role of zoledronic acid in the management of osteoporosis

  • Michael Maricic
Review Article


Bisphosphonates are the current standard of care for treatment of osteoporosis. However, oral bisphosphonates are associated with complicated dosing regimens because of poor absorption and have the potential for upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract irritation, resulting in poor adherence and persistence. Zoledronic acid (ZOL) 5 mg, a once-yearly intravenous bisphosphonate, is approved for treatment and prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis, increasing bone mass in men with osteoporosis, and treatment and prevention of glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis. Because it is administered as an infusion, ZOL ensures adherence and persistence over the entire 12-month dosing interval and bypasses the GI absorption/irritation problems associated with oral bisphosphonates. The objective of this study was to review the safety and efficacy of 5 mg ZOL and its potential for improving patient compliance. Published reports dating back to 2001 were reviewed, with emphasis on osteoporosis treatment. In the HORIZON-Pivotal Fracture Trial, annual infusions of 5 mg ZOL produced significant reductions in risk of morphometric vertebral fractures (70%) and hip fractures (41%) vs placebo over 3 years in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. In the HORIZON-Recurrent Fracture Trial, an annual infusion of 5 mg ZOL after repair of a recent low-trauma hip fracture was associated with significant reductions in risk for new clinical fractures (35%) vs placebo. In men with osteoporosis, an annual treatment of ZOL over 2 years increased lumbar spine bone mineral density (BMD) by 6% compared with baseline. In patients starting or continuing treatment with chronic glucocorticoids, ZOL resulted in significantly greater increases in lumbar spine BMD over 1 year than an oral bisphosphonate. In postmenopausal women with osteopenia, a single infusion of ZOL over a 2-year period produced significantly greater gains in lumbar spine and hip BMD than placebo. ZOL is generally safe and well tolerated. Five milligrams of ZOL has the potential to improve compliance with osteoporosis therapy and, consequently, to reduce fracture risk in clinical practice.


Compliance Glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis Intravenous bisphosphonates Male osteoporosis Osteoporosis Postmenopausal osteoporosis Zoledronic acid 



The author wishes to thank BioScience Communications of New York, NY, for editorial assistance in the development of this manuscript (funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation).

Conflict of Interest statement

The author was a site Principal Investigator for the HORIZON-Pivotal Fracture Trial described in the article and has received honoraria from Novartis for speaking and consulting.


Dr. Maricic has received funds from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation for clinical research grants, consulting, and speaking in the past.


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Copyright information

© Clinical Rheumatology 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Catalina Pointe Clinical Research, Inc.University of Arizona School of MedicineTucsonUSA

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