Drug Safety

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 151–160 | Cite as

Ophthalmological Events in Patients Receiving Risedronate

Summary of Information Gained Through Follow-Up in a Prescription-Event Monitoring Study in England
  • Beate Aurich-Barrera
  • Lynda Wilton
  • Scott Harris
  • Saad A.W. Shakir
Original Research Article


Background: In the UK, the nitrogen bisphosphonate risedronate is licensed for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. It is also licensed for the treatment of Paget’s disease. During a prescription-event monitoring (PEM) study on risedronate we noted a number of ophthalmological events. Recently, case reports of ophthalmological adverse drug reactions in patients taking bisphosphonates were published in the medical literature. The aim of this study was to further evaluate the association of ophthalmological events reported in relation to risedronate treatment during a PEM study on the drug.

Methods: An observational cohort study (PEM study) was conducted in England between September 2000 and June 2002. General practitioners (GPs) were asked for follow-up information on selected events. Events followed up were classified as either ‘probably’, ‘possibly’ or ‘unlikely’ to be related to risedronate, using a modified WHO classification. If insufficient information was obtained on the follow-up questionnaire, the cases were categorised as ‘unassessable’.

Results: Of the total PEM study cohort of 13 643 patients, 11 156 (82%) were females and 2398 (18%) were males. We received 359 reports of ophthalmological events in 313 patients during the entire study period. Of these we followed up 178 events in 178 patients. Nineteen events in 19 patients were assessed as possibly or probably related to risedronate. The age range for these patients was 50–92 years and the time to onset ranged from 7 days to 5 months. Dry eye (six reports), sore eye (five reports) and conjunctivitis (three reports) were the most frequently reported ophthalmological events assessed as probably or possibly related to risedronate therapy. GPs also reported several other inflammatory conditions of the eye, amongst them two events each of iritis and episcleritis as well as one of keratitis. However, the information received on follow up of these events was insufficient to make causality assessments.

Conclusion: Patients receiving risedronate can present with a variety of signs and symptoms affecting the eye with different degrees of severity. Patients may present after the first month of treatment. Doctors should have an increased awareness of possible ophthalmological adverse drug reactions in patients receiving this drug, which may affect the eyesight in a population at increased risk of fracture if they fall.


Risedronate Causality Assessment Green Form Ocular Adverse Effect Risedronate Treatment 
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We would like to thank all the general practitioners who have kindly participated in this study without payment and those that completed the follow-up questionnaires. We also thank the Prescription Pricing Authority for their continuing support. Further, we would like to thank Mr Shayne Freemantle, Data Analysis Manager, the entire Drug Safety Research Unit (DSRU) team that worked on this study and Mrs Lesley Flowers for preparing this manuscript.

Funding: The DSRU is a medical charity receiving unconditional grants from pharmaceutical companies, including the manufacturers of risedronate and alendronate, and other products in osteoporosis. However, these companies have no control over our decision to conduct a study, the study protocol or the reporting of any results.

Conflicts of interest: Professor Saad Shakir has received consultancy and lecturing fees from the manufacturers of products used for the treatment of osteoporosis. Beate Aurich-Barrera, Lynda Wilton and Scott Harris have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to this study.

WHO statement: The WHO Collaborating Centre in Uppsala, Sweden states that, with respect to data released from the centre, “the information is not homogenous at least with respect to origin or likelihood that the pharmaceutical product caused the adverse reaction” and that “the information does not represent the opinion of the WHO”.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beate Aurich-Barrera
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lynda Wilton
    • 1
    • 2
  • Scott Harris
    • 1
    • 3
  • Saad A.W. Shakir
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Drug Safety Research UnitBursledon HallSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.University of PortsmouthPortsmouthUK
  3. 3.University of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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