Belgian researchers found that a medication usually reserved for osteoporosis could delay knee osteoarthritis progression, according to a recent presentation.
Strontium ranelate is used to treat osteoporosis and prevent vertebral and hip fractures, but Jean-Yves Reginster, MD, PhD, and colleagues found the medication is also useful in the reduction of joint damage and symptoms of knee osteoarthritis (OA).
“Osteoarthritis is the most common disease in the elderly and there are currently major unmet medical needs in OA disease management,” Reginster, who is president and chair of the department of public health services at the University of Liège in Belgium, stated in a press release. “There is currently no medication approved by regulatory authorities to prevent the structural progression of the disease.”
Patients in the Strontium Ranelate Knee Osteoarthritis Trial (SEKOIA) were given either a placebo or 1 gram to 2 grams of strontium ranelate daily. After 1 year, researchers saw -0.23±0.56 mm cartilage loss measured in the joint space in patients who took 1 gram daily, -0.27±0.63 mm in patients who took 2 grams daily and -0.37±0.59 mm in patients with the placebo.
Compared with the placebo, the medication also improved physical function and pain relief. There was no significant difference between the placebo group and the group taking the medication.
Of the 1,683 patients with symptomatic knee OA in the trial, 69% were female with an average body mass index of 30±5 kg/m². Sixty percent of the patients had mild stage 2 OA, while 40% had moderate stage 3 OA, according to the release. The average joint space width at the start of the trial was 3.5 mm.
Reginster J-Y. Paper #1596. Presented at: American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting. Nov. 9-14, 2012; Washington D.C.