Forteo™ is promoted as a rising star on the osteoporosis scene, a bone drug that actually builds new bone, rather than just halting bone loss. By various mechanisms, Forteo “tricks” the body into building substantial new bone mass and short-term studies show Forteo actually reduces fracture more than other bone drugs. Sure, it is very expensive and has to be given by daily self-administered injections, but still, the large bone density increases and unprecedented reduction of both spinal and hip fractures are impressive.
While all this sounds great, when we look more carefully, we see Forteo has a variety of serious drawbacks and side effects. First, it is experimental and poorly tested. It also brings with it a series of potential adverse effects. These adverse effects include the development of bone cancer in animals, the potential to cause excessive new bone formation, high blood calcium, nausea, immunologic responses, leg cramps, hypotension, depression, and dizziness. For these reasons (not to mention its expense), I do not think Forteo is a worthwhile option for the treatment of osteoporosis in the majority of patients.
To read my full analysis of the Forteo drug, see my article Forteo™ – is this bone drug too good to be true?.