Friday, January 8, 2016

Retract Study That Claimed Nitroglycerin Might Boost Bone Density

Some authors of a published study that claimed the heart medicine nitroglycerin might boost bone density in older women have asked that the study be retracted, saying the lead researcher falsified data in the the report.

The research was first published in February2011 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The request for a retraction appeared online Dec. 28 on the journal’s website.

The researchers who published the retraction request said an investigation found that Dr. Sophie Jamal, formerly a researcher with Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, fabricated the data for the study. Jamal isn’t named as an author of the retraction request, which followed a hospital investigation that determined she had manipulated the data in the study.

When the study was published, it reported that applying a small amount of nitroglycerin ointment to the arm each day was linked to a modest increase in bone density. Roughly 240 women, average age 62, were involved in the study.

An October 2015 report in the Toronto Star said all the women in the study had been told the results weren’t accurate. Jamal has resigned as research director of the Centre for Osteoporosis & Bone Health a Women’s College Hospital, and as an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, the newspaper reported.

My Take:
I read this study a few years ago but saw little value in using a vasodilator to improve bone density. After reading this retraction I can’t help but wonder what (or who) motivated Dr. Jamal to fake the data. On the surface, she had little to gain and obviously a lot to lose – career and reputation. I strongly suspect Big Pharm is behind this attempt to promote an alternative use for a drug with lagging sales. This is an emerging pattern in prescription medications.

Bone density studies use x-ray to calculate density. Unfortunately, bone density does not necessarily equal bone strength. The has become very apparent as bisphosphonates, like Phosamax and Boniva, now must carry warnings that their use is associated with increased hip fractures. This is because this category of drugs increases bone density by maintaining old brittle bone and preventing new bone formation. It is one of the most counterintuitive concepts in modern medicine. With the failure of these drugs, Big Pharm is looking for an alternative.

The Bottom Line:
Nitroglycerin has value as an acute vasodilator in the treatment of angina. Of note, it is a homeopathic preparation. One of very few that remain in the PDR (Physician’s Desk Reference), the drug bible. However, it has no benefit in the treatment or prevention of osteoporosis.

Source: December 29, 2015 National Institutes of Health

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