Boniva, a once a month pill for osteoporosis, has won Food and Drug Administration approval, according to the Wall Street Journal. Existing products must be taken at least weekly.
Introducing more convenient dosing is a popular strategy. It provides real benefits to consumers by making it easier to stay on the medication. This is especially true for bisphosphonates such as Boniva and Merck’s Fosamax, because the patient needs to remain upright for 30-60 minutes following administration. It’s also good for drug companies, because it often enables them to extend an existing, proven compound and charge the same amount per patient per year despite selling fewer pills. This is less risky and costly than developing a new compound and helps stave off generic competition.
Boniva breaks new ground by being the first oral treatment for any chronic condition that is taken as infrequently as once a month. Usually, achieving such a dosing interval has required injection. In fact, Novartis is working on a once a year injection for osteoporosis.