Latest results from the Bonviva ALendronate Trial in Osteoporosis (BALTO) have revealed that over 70% of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis (who expressed a preference) favoured Swiss drugmaker Roche and UK pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline’s new once-monthly therapy Bonviva (ibandronate) over existing treatments.

Bonviva, which received US approval earlier this year [[29/03/05a]], represents the first-ever oral once-monthly tablet for the treatment of any chronic disease and, based on data from BALTO, study authors conclude that a less frequent dosing regimen may help patients stay on their osteoporosis treatment for longer.

This has significant implications for treatment compliance, as many patients find osteoporosis therapy highly inconvenient, which is illustrated by the fact that up to two-thirds cease treatment within a year and thereby fail to benefit from the long-term bone-building effects of these drugs.

In addition, the groups also announced the start of a large-scale clinical trial comparing Bonviva (ibandronate sodium) against the current market leader, Merck's $3.2 billion-a-year Fosamax (alendronate sodium).

The MOTION (Monthly Oral Therapy with Ibandronate for Osteoporosis INtervention), a non-inferiority study, is designed to compare the safety and efficacy of once-monthly oral Bonviva and weekly oral Fosamax, in around 1,900 women.

“This is a very important study because these two treatment regimens have never before been directly compared,” commented Felicia Cosman, MD, medical director of the Clinical Research Center at Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw, New York. “This trial will measure each treatment’s ability to increase bone mineral density, an accepted surrogate for determining the risk of fracture - the most relevant consequence of postmenopausal osteoporosis,” she added.