Brittle bones costing billions

Female Pharmacist and Female Customer Consult Room Blood Pressure_4

Pharmacists are ideally placed to raise the issue of fracture prevention with patients, says Osteoporosis Australia

Failure to prevent fractures in people aged 50 and over is costing the nation billions each year, according to the Osteoporosis Burden of Disease reports released this week by Osteoporosis Australia (OA).

Fractures in older people are expected to cost $3.1 billion this year alone, and up to $21.9 billion by 2022.

“A broken bone in an older person is often a sign that we need to take action to prevent more bone loss, as each fracture indicates an even higher risk of further fracture,” says OA Medical Director, Professor Peter Ebeling AO.

“Four out of five Australians treated for an osteoporotic fracture are not tested for osteoporosis, and therefore are not offered treatment for osteoporosis,” says Professor Ebeling.

“There is a significant gap in osteoporosis care, and our hospitals are becoming revolving doors for fracture patients being sent home, and returning with new fractures, rather than being properly assessed and treated for osteoporosis.”

Dr Greg Lyubomirsky, CEO of Osteoporosis Australia, says pharmacists are able to make an impact in the prevention of osteoporotic fractures.

“Pharmacists are ideally placed to raise the issue of fracture prevention with patients at risk of osteoporosis. Many of the conditions and medications that can impact bone health are already part of pharmacists’ engagement with their consumers,” Dr Lyubomirsky tells AJP.

“The State and Territory reports released by Osteoporosis Australia indicate a significant gap still exists in diagnosing osteoporosis even when a fracture has occurred. Many patients with fragility fractures are not treated even though proven treatment options are available.

“We encourage pharmacists to discuss bone health with any customers over 50, and in particular patients who have suffered a fracture. Pharmacists are definitely part of the solution for reducing the burden of fractures in Australia.”

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