General Question

Aster's avatar

Were you suspicious when Sally Field said she takes one pill a month for her osteoporosis?

Asked by Aster (20002points) September 24th, 2010

When I saw Sally on tv touting “Boniva keeps my osteoporosis from worsening” I felt so sure that a drug that powerful must be dangerous. This was last year. I just felt uneasy about it and that it couldn’t possibly help. But now I read:
Do you take Boniva or were you doubtful it could help with osteoporosis?

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20 Answers

chyna's avatar

My 80 year old mother was given a prescription for Boniva. When I read the side effects, I told her not to take it, that osteoporosis was better than what the pill could do to her. Also, the cost was prohibitive at $80.00 a pill.

Brian1946's avatar

I don’t take it because I make sure that I get enough calcium and vitamin D, and I try to do weight-bearing exercises instead.

Also, I wouldn’t take it because of all the medical caveats that accompany the Boniva commercials.

Aster's avatar

@chyna Eighty bucks a pill?? That is unconscionable!

chyna's avatar

@Aster Yeah, I bought her a big bottle of Calcium for about 10 bucks.

gorillapaws's avatar

It comes down to the math. Hypothetically, I would be willing to take a pill that prevents me from shattering all of my bones with a 1:1,000,000 chance of getting a cancer. I would not be willing to take such a pill if it gave me 1:10 chance of getting cancer. There are very smart people who work the math on these types of things to find out what makes the best policy for overall health of the nation. Sometimes they don’t discover that a given drug may cause problems in a subset of people until much later, but having to wait 100 years for every drug to go through fool-proof screening would be even worse.

I simply don’t have the arrogance to assume I can make better decisions than Doctors. If I disagree with one, I’ll get a second or even third opinion, but I’m not going to pretend to think I“m capable of overriding their professional judgment. Likewise, I’m smart enough not to contradict the opinion of a structural engineer that tells me not to cut out a load-bearing support beam inside my house.

lillycoyote's avatar

With any drug you always have to way the risks against the benefits. Osteoporosis is a pretty serious disorder if left untreated. And I’m no big pharma booster, but 960$ a year for treatment to prevent osteoporosis weighed against treatment for multiple, disabling fractures of the years, not to mention the pain and suffering and loss of mobility that would cause seems pretty reasonable. And, what @gorillapaws said too. :-)

Aster's avatar

@gorillapaws “I’m smart enough not to contradict the opinion of a structural engineer that tells me not to cut out a load-bearing support beam inside my house.” The difference is the helpful engineer doesn’t have ulterior motives. At $80 a pill there may be a monetary reward, not for your general practitioner necessarily, but for the pharmaceutical company that produces the drug. The engineer isn’t being greedy and reckless to pad his bank account.

chyna's avatar

Per RXList:
Some people using medicines similar to ibandronate have developed bone loss in the jaw, also called osteonecrosis of the jaw. Symptoms of this condition may include jaw pain, swelling, numbness, loose teeth, gum infection, or slow healing after injury or surgery involving the gums. You may be more likely to develop osteonecrosis of the jaw if you have cancer or have been treated with chemotherapy, radiation, or steroids. Other conditions associated with osteonecrosis of the jaw include blood clotting disorders, anemia (low red blood cells), and a pre-existing dental problems.
My mom has lung cancer and has had chemo and radiation therapy. Each person has their own medical issues they have to consider.

CMaz's avatar

Nothing suspicious about getting a paycheck.

Aster's avatar

chazy mazzy, I meant suspicious of the drug, not of her!

Jeruba's avatar

My husband was on that drug for a while, so no. He quit because the side effects were too troublesome. No reason to think it didn’t do what it was supposed to.

Pharmaceuticals are expensive. That’s why so many folks, especially seniors, are crying about it. I currently pay more per month in copayments for my prescriptions than the amount of my total insurance contribution at my last job.

Lightlyseared's avatar

The cost of developing a new drug can be massive. I’ve seen estimates from $800million to over $2 billion. $1000 per year for treatment isn’t actually that bad compared to some treatments for cancer that can cost $50–60k a year.

However the idea of having celebrities on TV touting drugs seems a bit weird.

MissA's avatar

Am I the only one who doesn’t like to see pharmaceutical endorsements by actors?

They clearly performed the equivalent of air brushing on Sally’s skin. She is lovely on her own…a fine actor. I don’t think that it’s right to hire her to convince us of taking a drug. If it turns out that long term use is not healthy, will they bring Sally back to apologize?

I also don’t like patients lobbying their doctors, by suggestion of the pharmaceutical companies.

Maybe I’m turning into an ol’ fogie!

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@MissA One of the social workers I work with gave me a bumper sticker that said, “Ask your doctor if medical advice from a television commercial is right for you.” :-)

MissA's avatar


That’s good…but, sad. I wonder what the grand finale will look like. Will there be a bidding war for pharmaceuticals if something happens to reduce their availability?

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@MissA Probably… or a free-for-all.

Jeruba's avatar

@MissA, i don’t like to see celebrity endorsements of any kind unless their area of expertise makes them an authority on the product—such as a musician touting an amplifier or an athlete speaking for sports equipment that he or she uses. but this is a favorite advertising ploy because it is so effective.

MissA's avatar

@Jeruba I couldn’t agree more.

snowberry's avatar

No. I figured she’d pay for it in the end.

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