The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has published Drug Safety Update for June 2011 (PDF).
This issue contains drug safety information advising clinicians how to manage bisphosphonate therapy in light of rare atypical femoral fractures. It is suggested that in the event of an atypical femoral fracture the benefits and risks of treatment are reassessed and that treatment can be discontinued while the patient is evaluated.
Clinicians are also advised that the optimum treatment duration for osteoporosis has not been evaluated and therefore continued treatment should be re-evaluated periodically but particularly after 5 or more years of use.
The drug safety section also informs clinicians about recent epidemiological studies that have shown that the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) for drospirenone containing combined oral contraceptives (COCs), including Yasmin, is higher than for levonorgestrel-containing COCs. It is also noted that the risk may be similar to COCs that contain desogestrel or gestodene (so-called ‘third generation’ pills).
The risk of VTE is still small, and less than the risk associated with pregnancy however clinicians should be aware of this information when discussing the most suitable type of contraceptive.
Action: Clinicians will find this publication to be a useful review of current issues in drug safety.