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Updated September 2022
Denosumab (brand name Prolia) is a medicine used to treat osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a common condition which causes bones to become fragile and brittle so that they break (fracture) more easily. Fractures are painful and restrict a person’s ability to carry out their normal daily tasks. Denosumab reduces the risk of a broken bone or fracture.
For more information about OSTEOPOROSIS see Healthy Bones Australia website or phone 1800 242 141.
Bone is constantly changing, with old bone breaking down and new bone being formed to take its place. This usually happens in a balanced way. If the cycle becomes unbalanced, bone breaks down faster than it is replaced. This leads to osteoporosis. Denosumab is a medicine that slows, or stops, the bone breaking down but allows it to be formed. As a result, bone strength increases and the risk of fracture is reduced.
Since osteoporosis is usually not painful (until a fracture occurs) you will not ‘feel’ any immediate benefit from your treatment with denosumab.
The treatment controls osteoporosis but does not cure it. It is therefore important to continue to use denosumab even if you feel well. Do not stop using denosumab until advised by your specialist/GP.
You may be asked to have tests to check the effect of treatment on your bones. For example, a bone mineral density test is usually done after two years of treatment. This is a type of X-ray that involves a very small amount of radiation. Tests of urine or blood are also sometimes used to measure the effects of treatment on bone formation and breakdown.
Denosumab is given as an injection under the skin (subcutaneously).Denosumab is given as an injection under the skin (subcutaneously). It is very important that you follow the instructions for using denosumab carefully, including the instructions for storage and disposal. Ask your specialist/GP or pharmacist to explain anything you do not understand.
Denosumab may be injected into the top of the thigh, the abdomen or the back of the arm. It comes in a single-use pre-filled syringe to make the injection easier.
You or your carer should have proper training before using the injection. If you are not sure ask your specialist/GP, nurse or pharmacist before attempting the injection.
For safety, each pre-filled syringe has an automatic needle guard that is activated to cover the needle after complete delivery of the syringe contents.
The needle guard contains a latex derivative. If you have latex allergy or sensitivity tell your specialist/GP.
Do not use denosumab if the solution is cloudy or discoloured. There may be some translucent to white particles of protein in the solution; however, the medicine can still be used.
The denosumab dose is 60 milligrams. It is given once every 6 months.
Do not use more or less denosumab, or use it more often than prescribed by your specialist/GP.
It is safe to take most other medicines when you are taking denosumab. However, it should not be taken with other anti-resorptive osteoporosis medicines (see Precautions).
Your specialist/GP may recommend that you take calcium and vitamin D as additional treatment for osteoporosis. Do not stop taking these medicines unless advised to by your specialist/GP.
Your specialist/GP will review your progress each year. Once you have had one fracture your chance of having another one is high, so it is important to keep taking the medicine as long as it is effective and as long as no serious side effects occur.
Most people who take denosumab do not experience side effects. Tell your specialist/GP if you are concerned about possible side effects.
There are a number of other uncommon side effects and precautions that are described in the leaflet that comes with the medicine. Read this information and call your specialist/GP if you have any problems while using this medicine. Denosumab is a new medicine so its long-term side effects are not yet known.