Following a decade of steady growth, use of bisphosphonates—medications that are effective for treating osteoporosis—declined in the United States by more than 50% from 2008 to 2012.

The sudden drop seemed to occur after media reports highlighted safety concerns, such as the development of certain fractures that occurred rarely in long-term users, despite the fact that the US Food and Drug Administration and the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research did not recommend any specific safety restrictions on bisphosphonates. The findings are published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

“Our study documents a dramatic drop in osteoporosis medication use by patients. Whether it will impact the long-term bone health of the nation remains to be seen,” said senior author Dr. Timothy Bhattacharyya.