Descriptive analysis of concomitant prescription medication patterns from 1999 to 2004 among US women receiving daily or weekly oral bisphosphonate therapy

Gend Med. 2008 Dec;5(4):374-84. doi: 10.1016/j.genm.2008.10.004.


Background: To improve medication-taking behavior, it is important to identify factors that may contribute to suboptimal compliance and persistence with osteoporosis medications.

Objective: The purpose of this descriptive analysis was to identify concurrent prescription medication use (number and type) among women receiving daily or weekly oral bisphosphonate therapy.

Methods: Patient prescription data were collected from November 1999 to June 2004 from a US patient claims database accessed through Wolters Kluwer Health (formerly NDC Health), which represents >65 million patients annually. Women aged >or=50 years who were receiving daily or weekly oral bisphosphonate medication during the study months were included. Concomitant medications were defined based on >or=14 days of prescription supply in the same month as bisphosphonate therapy. Data were examined to determine the frequency with which certain drugs and drug classes were prescribed concomitantly with bisphosphonates. Each study month was treated independently to assess concomitant medication use.

Results: Over the study period, the number of female bisphosphonate recipients in the database increased from 78,909 to 250,286. At the end of the study, 16.2%, 12.2%, 8.7%, and 19.1% of bisphosphonate recipients were prescribed 3, 4, 5, or >or=6 concomitant medications, respectively. The most commonly prescribed concomitant drug classes were cholesterol reducers, diuretics, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, synthetic thyroid hormones, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, systemic analgesics/anti-inflammatory drugs, and antispasmodics/antisecretory drugs. From July 2001 until the end of the study, the number of concomitant medications was higher for women receiving daily bisphosphonates than for those receiving weekly bisphosphonates, 4.16 versus 3.77 as of June 2004. In addition, the mean number of concomitant medications prescribed increased with age: in the aged 50 to 64 years cohort, the aged 65 to 74 years cohort, and the aged >or=75 years cohort, the mean number was 3.09, 3.62, and 3.97, respectively, as of June 2004.

Conclusion: This analysis suggests that women prescribed bisphosphonates have a high medication burden, with the majority of patients (56%) taking >or=3 concomitant prescription medications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / administration & dosage
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diphosphonates / administration & dosage
  • Diphosphonates / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy*
  • Polypharmacy
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors
  • United States


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Diphosphonates