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Denosumab compared to other treatments to prevent or treat osteoporosis in individuals at risk of fracture: a systematic review and meta-analysis



The aim of this review is to compare the efficacy and safety of denosumab over other treatments for osteoporosis. The results of this study suggest that the safety of denosumab and its efficacy in reducing fractures is not significantly different from bisphosphonates. Denosumab was, however, more effective in increasing bone mineral density.


This study was conducted to compare the efficacy and safety of denosumab over other pharmacological treatments for osteoporosis in individuals at risk of fracture.


Randomised controlled trials comparing denosumab with another pharmacological treatment for osteoporosis were searched in MEDLINE, EMBASE and CENTRAL. Identified articles were screened by two independent reviewers and assessed for inclusion. Data from included studies were extracted and meta-analyses were conducted using random effects models.


Nine studies including a total of 4890 postmenopausal women were identified. The follow-up period varied from 12 to 24 months. In all studies except one, the comparator treatment was a bisphosphonate. There was no statistically significant difference between patients receiving denosumab and those receiving a bisphosphonate in terms of fracture risk (RR[95 % CI] = 1.15 [0.84–1.58]), adverse events (RR[95 % CI] = 0.99 [0.96–1.02]) or deaths (OR[95 % CI] = 0.58 [0.12–2.71]). Withdrawals due to adverse events were less frequent in denosumab than in other treatment groups but the difference did not reach statistical significance (OR[95 % CI] = 0.68 [0.45–1.04]). The percent change in bone mineral density at the total hip, lumbar spine, femoral neck and one-third radius was significantly higher in participants who received denosumab (e.g. mean difference [95 % CI] at the total hip: 1.06 [0.86–1.25]).


These results suggest that, after 12 to 24 months, the safety and efficacy of denosumab for reducing fracture risk is not significantly different from bisphosphonates despite higher gains in bone mineral density. In a clinical setting, denosumab may demonstrate greater effectiveness.

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We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Alexis F. Turgeon and Amélie Boutin for their methodological assistance. We also acknowledge the contribution of the administrative assistant Julie Parrot.

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Correspondence to C. Beaudoin.

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C Beaudoin received a scholarship from the CHU de Québec.

Conflicts of interest

C Beaudoin, S Jean and L Moore have no conflict of interest to disclose.

L Bessette received remuneration from Amgen, Eli Lilly, Novartis, and Merck; consultant/advisory role to Amgen, UCB, Pfizer, Abbvie, and Hoffmann-La Roche; and funds from Abbott, Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofiaventis, Servier, Warner Chilcott, and Takeda.

L-G Ste-Marie received research grants from Amgen and Eli Lilly; educational grants from Amgen, Eli Lilly, Genzyme, and Novartis; and board membership from Amgen, Eli Lilly, and Merck.

J P Brown received research grants from Amgen and Eli Lilly; board membership for Amgen, Eli Lilly, and Merck; consulting and speaking fees from Amgen and Eli Lilly.

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Beaudoin, C., Jean, S., Bessette, L. et al. Denosumab compared to other treatments to prevent or treat osteoporosis in individuals at risk of fracture: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Osteoporos Int 27, 2835–2844 (2016).

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  • Denosumab
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Treatment
  • Safety
  • Efficacy
  • Fracture