Forteo (Parathyroid Hormone, PTH)

Forteo is the newest medication available for treating osteoporisis. Forteo is the brand name for PTH or parathyroid hormone.

Our bodies produce PTH continuously throughout the day. Many studies have shown that when parathyroid hormone is given in a single dose once a day, bone density increases dramatically.

Because the stomach would destroy PTH before it enters bloodstream if you took it as a pill, PTH is taken as an injection. If you are interested in taking Forteo, discuss with your physician if it is the right drug for you.

It is often the drug of choice for people with severe osteoporosis (people who have osteoporosis and have already experienced fractures).


  • Forteo works by increasing the activity of the bone-building cells.
  • Taking Forteo results in rapid, high increases in bone density.
  • Forteo reduces the risk of fracture quickly.
  • Forteo has few side effects.


  • Most common side effects of Forteo are dizziness and leg cramps.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that Forteo may cause osteosarcoma, or bone cancer. Although no human subjects in studies have developed osteosarcoma, rats given Forteo have developed bone cancer. People with naturally high PTH levels do not have a higher risk of bone cancer, however, some patients may not be appropriate for this drug.
  • Forteo is in the form of an injection, but it is an easy-to-use pen where you adjust the dosage and push a button.

Forteo Tips:

  • Take Forteo sitting down to make sure you do not experience dizziness.
  • You can take Forteo any time – with or without food.
  • Try to take Forteo at the same time every day.
  • Don’t use your Forteo pen if it looks cloudy or colored.
  • Don’t use a Forteo pen that is past the expiration date.
  • Keep Forteo refrigerated.
  • Be sure your doctor or a patient educator teaches you how to use your Forteo pen step by step.