Benefits and Risks of Prescription Medication

If one is at high risk of fracture, you are at greater risk of having a broken bone from osteoporosis if you don’t take the medication than you are of having a side effect from the medication if you do.

All medications have potential side effects, even over the counter ones that we buy and use routinely. With osteoporosis medications, the more serious side effects - difficulty healing after dental surgery that affects the jawbone and an unusual break in the thigh – happen to a very small number of people. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your concerns regarding risk factors.

Remember, a broken bone from osteoporosis can be devastating. It can result in chronic pain, depression, social isolation, fear of the future, the likelihood of more fractures, and in some cases even death from complications after a hip fracture. An osteoporosis medication can reduce the risk of another fracture from 30 – 70%. The risk of one of the more severe side effects, a jawbone that won’t heal after dental surgery or an unusual thigh fracture, is very low. Yet people do have fears. Here are some of the reasons why.


Following the dosing requirements may be especially hard if the patient has many conditions requiring many drug treatments.

Not all medications are covered under provincial or private drug plans, or there are restrictions on who is covered.

The regimen for administering the drug may be difficult.

Patients fear immediate or longer-term side effects. Social media, which tends to feature negative experiences, feeds this fear.

The need for and benefits of a medication may not be felt. Osteoporosis has been called “the silent thief” because there are no symptoms until one has fractured.

Patients may not understand the disease or the benefits of medication.

The individual forgets when and how to take the medication.

The patient may have a poor relationship with their healthcare provider and so not trust their advice.

When someone suffers from depression they are not motivated to take care of themselves and therefore do not take the prescribed medication.

Patients doubt the benefits of drug treatment or prefer a “natural” approach.