Efficacy and safety of denosumab vs. bisphosphonates in postmenopausal women previously treated with oral bisphosphonates

Osteoporos Int. 2020 Jan;31(1):181-191. doi: 10.1007/s00198-019-05233-x. Epub 2019 Nov 28.


Transitioning postmenopausal women with osteoporosis from a bisphosphonate to denosumab appears to be safe and more effective at improving BMD than continuing treatment with a bisphosphonate.

Introduction: We conducted a patient-level pooled analysis of four studies to estimate the efficacy and safety of transitioning to denosumab vs. continuing bisphosphonate treatment in postmenopausal women who previously received oral bisphosphonates.

Methods: Patients received 60 mg denosumab once every 6 months or a bisphosphonate (oral alendronate, risedronate, ibandronate, or intravenous zoledronic acid). Endpoints were change from baseline in lumbar spine, total hip, femoral neck, and 1/3 radius BMD at month 12, change from baseline in serum CTX-1 and P1NP, and incidence of adverse events.

Results: A total of 2850 randomized patients (1424 bisphosphonate:1426 denosumab) were included in the analysis. Percentage change in BMD was significantly greater (p < 0.001) for denosumab vs. bisphosphonate at each skeletal site; differences in BMD changes ranged from 0.6 to 2.0%. Percentage decrease in serum CTX-1 and P1NP was significantly greater (p < 0.0001) for denosumab vs. bisphosphonate at months 1, 6, and 12; in the denosumab group only, percentage change in serum CTX-1 at month 1 was significantly correlated with percentage change in lumbar spine and total hip BMD at month 12. The incidences of adverse events were similar between treatment groups. Three patients (one bisphosphonate and two denosumab) had atypical femoral fractures, all from the denosumab vs. zoledronic acid study.

Conclusion: Postmenopausal women can safely transition from a bisphosphonate to denosumab, which is more effective at improving BMD than continuing with a bisphosphonate.

Clinical trials registration: NCT00377819, NCT00919711, NCT00936897, NCT01732770.

Keywords: Bisphosphonate; Bone mineral density; Denosumab; Pooled analysis; Postmenopausal women.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bone Density
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents* / adverse effects
  • Denosumab* / adverse effects
  • Diphosphonates* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal* / drug therapy
  • Postmenopause


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Diphosphonates
  • Denosumab

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00377819
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00919711
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00936897
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01732770

Grant support