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Teriparatide for Osteoporosis

Examples

Generic Name Brand Name
teriparatide Forteo

Teriparatide (Forteo) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat osteoporosis in men and women. It is given by daily injection.

How It Works

Teriparatide is a synthetic version of parathyroid hormone, which is the body's primary regulator of calcium and phosphate in the bones. Teriparatide stimulates bone growth and slows the rate of bone loss.

Why It Is Used

Teriparatide is used to treat severe osteoporosis in people at high risk for bone fractures. It can be used by both men and women. Teriparatide treatment is reserved for people with severe osteoporosis who are unable to take other medicines or for whom other medicines are not effective. The reasons why teriparatide is used after other treatments include its high cost, need for daily injections, and unknown long-term effects.

How Well It Works

Teriparatide increases bone density and decreases the risk of fractures.1

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Hives.
  • Fainting or a lightheaded feeling that does not go away.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea that does not go away.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Joint pain.
  • Headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea.
  • Stuffy or runny nose.
  • Feeling of loss of strength or energy.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Teriparatide is very expensive and must be given by daily injections.

Long-term effects of taking teriparatide are not known, so experts recommend that this medicine is taken for no longer than 2 years. After you stop taking teriparatide, you will take another medicine such as alendronate, which is a bisphosphonate, to prevent bone loss.

Teriparatide is not recommended for young people whose bones have not stopped growing or who have had radiation therapy that involved the bones.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. Drugs for postmenopausal osteoporosis (2011). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 9(111): 67–74.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Last Revised November 6, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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