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"March 7, 2013 -- An FDA panel voted to stop recommending calcitonin salmon for the treatment of osteoporosis in women who are at least five years past menopause.

The committee voted 12-9 against continued marketing of the drug, citing"...




The incidence of adverse reactions reported in studies involving postmenopausal osteoporotic patients chronically exposed to calcitonin-salmon nasal spray (N=341) and to placebo nasal spray (N=131), and reported in greater than 3% of calcitonin-salmon nasal spray treated patients are presented in the following table. Most adverse reactions were mild to moderate in severity. Nasal adverse events were most common with 70% mild, 25% moderate, and 5% severe in nature (placebo rates were 71% mild, 27% moderate, and 2% severe).

Adverse Reactions Occurring in at Least 3% of Postmenopausal Patients Treated Chronically

Adverse Reaction Calcitonin-Salmon Nasal Spray
% of Patients
% of Patients
Rhinitis 12.0 6.9
Symptom of Nose† 10.6 16.0
Back Pain 5.0 2.3
Arthralgia 3.8 5.3
Epistaxis 3.5 4.6
Headache 3.2 4.6
†Symptom of nose includes: nasal crusts, dryness, redness or erythema, nasal sores, irritation, itching, thick feeling, soreness, pallor, infection, stenosis, runny/blocked, small wound, bleeding wound, tenderness, uncomfortable feeling and sore across bridge of nose.

In addition, the following adverse events were reported in fewer than 3% of patients during chronic therapy with calcitonin-salmon nasal spray. Adverse events reported in 1%-3% of patients are identified with an asterisk(*). The remainder occurred in less than 1% of patients. Other than flushing, nausea, possible allergic reactions, and possible local irritative effects in the respiratory tract, a relationship to calcitonin-salmon nasal spray has not been established.

Body as a whole – General Disorders: influenza-like symptoms*, fatigue*, edema (facial, peripheral, and generalized), fever

Integumentary: erythematous rash*, skin ulceration, eczema, alopecia, pruritus, increased sweating

Musculoskeletal/Collagen: arthrosis*, myalgia*, arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, stiffness

Respiratory/Special Senses: sinusitis*, upper respiratory tract infection*, bronchospasm*, pharyngitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, coughing, dyspnea, taste perversion, parosmia, nasal congestion, sneezing, allergic rhinitis, nasal odor, mucosal excoriation, rhinitis ulcerative

Cardiovascular: hypertension*, angina pectoris*, tachycardia, palpitation, bundle branch block, myocardial infarction

Gastrointestinal: dyspepsia*, constipation*, abdominal pain*, nausea*, diarrhea*, vomiting, flatulence, increased appetite, gastritis, dry mouth

Liver/Metabolic: cholelithiasis, hepatitis, thirst, weight increase

Endocrine: goiter, hyperthyroidism

Urinary System: cystitis*, pyelonephritis, hematuria, renal calculus

Central and Peripheral Nervous System: dizziness*, paresthesia*, vertigo, migraine, neuralgia, agitation

Hearing/Vestibular: tinnitus, hearing loss, earache

Vision: abnormal lacrimation*, conjunctivitis*, blurred vision, vitreous floater, visual disturbance

Vascular: flushing, cerebrovascular accident, thrombophlebitis

Hematologic/Resistance Mechanisms: lymphadenopathy*, infection*, anemia

Psychiatric: depression*, insomnia, anxiety, anorexia

Immune System Disorders: hypersensitivity, anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock

Common adverse reactions associated with the use of injectable calcitonin-salmon occurred less frequently in patients treated with calcitonin-salmon nasal spray than in those patients treated with injectable calcitonin. Nausea, with or without vomiting, which occurred in 1.8% of patients treated with the nasal spray (and 1.5% of those receiving placebo nasal spray) occurs in about 10% of patients who take injectable calcitonin-salmon. Flushing, which occurred in less than 1% of patients treated with the nasal spray, occurs in 2-5% of patients treated with injectable calcitonin-salmon. Although the administered dosages of injectable and nasal spray calcitonin-salmon are comparable (50-100 units daily of injectable versus 200 units daily of nasal spray), the nasal dosage form has a mean bioavailability of about 3% (range 0.3%-30.6%) and therefore provides less drug to the systemic circulation, possibly accounting for the decrease in frequency of adverse reactions.

The collective foreign marketing experience with calcitonin-salmon nasal spray does not show evidence of any notable difference in the incidence profile of reported adverse reactions when compared with that seen in the clinical trials.

Read the Fortical (calcitonin-salmon (rdna origin)) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects


Formal studies designed to evaluate drug interactions with calcitonin-salmon have not been done.

Concomitant use of calcitonin and lithium may lead to a reduction in plasma lithium concentrations due to increased urinary clearance of lithium. The dose of lithium may need to be adjusted.

The effects of prior use of diphosphonates in postmenopausal osteoporosis patients have not been assessed; however, in patients with Paget's disease prior diphosphonate use appears to reduce the anti-resorptive response to calcitonin-salmon nasal spray.

Read the Fortical Drug Interactions Center for a complete guide to possible interactions

Last reviewed on RxList: 8/26/2011
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.


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