Increased risk of hypocalcemia with decreased kidney function in patients prescribed bisphosphonates based on real-world data from the MID-NET® in Japan: a new-user cohort study

BMC Nephrol. 2024 Apr 15;25(1):134. doi: 10.1186/s12882-024-03553-7.


Background: In the post-marketing stage, cases of hypocalcemia associated with bisphosphonate preparations (BPs) have been reported in patients with decreased kidney function, despite warning against use of BPs in such patients in the package insert (PI) of Japan. The purpose of this study was to investigate the safety of BPs in patients with decreased kidney function.

Methods: The cohort study was conducted in patients with osteoporosis and newly prescribed bisphosphonate utilizing real-world data from MID-NET® in Japan. The adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) for hypocalcemia (a corrected serum Ca level < 8.00 mg/dL) relative to the normal group were calculated in each decreased kidney function group (mild, moderate or severe group).

Results: A total of 14,551 patients were included in the analysis, comprising 2,601 (17.88%) with normal (eGFR ≥ 90 mL/min/1.73m2), 7,613 (52.32%) with mild (60 ≤ eGFR < 90 mL/min/1.73m2), 3,919 (26.93%) with moderate (30 ≤ eGFR < 60 mL/min/1.73m2), and 418 (2.87%) with severe kidney function (eGFR < 30 mL/min/1.73m2). The aHRs (95% confidence interval) for hypocalcemia were 1.85 (0.75-4.57), 2.30 (0.86-6.21), and 22.74 (8.37-61.78) in the mild, moderate, and severe groups, respectively. The increased risk of hypocalcemia depending on kidney function was also observed even when calculating the aHR for each specific BP such as alendronate sodium hydrate, minodronic acid hydrate, and sodium risedronate hydrate. Furthermore, similar results were obtained in the sensitivity analysis by altering the outcome definition to a 20% or more reduction in corrected serum Ca level from the baseline, as well as when focusing on patients with more than one laboratory test result per 30 days during the follow-up period.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that the risk of hypocalcemia during BP prescription is higher in patients with decreased kidney function, particularly those with severely decreased kidney function. The quantitative real-world evidence on the safety risk of BPs obtained in this study has led to the PI revision describing a relationship between hypocalcemia risk and decreased kidney function as a regulatory action in Japan and will contribute to promoting the proper use of BPs with appropriate risk management in clinical practice.

Keywords: Bisphosphonates; Hypocalcemia; Pharmacoepidemiology; Real-world evidence; Renal impairment.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Diphosphonates / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hypocalcemia* / chemically induced
  • Hypocalcemia* / epidemiology
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Kidney


  • Diphosphonates