NPS MedicineWise has launched a new learning program and health professional resources on osteoporosis to assist in identification of patients at increased risk of osteoporosis, choosing and initiating therapy in patients particularly following minimal trauma fractures, and to encourage adherence to medicines.
Despite an ageing population, prescriptions for osteoporosis medicines in Australia have remained stable.
The number of Australians over the age of 50 with osteoporosis or osteopenia is expected to increase from 4.74 million in 2012 to 6.2 million by 2022, resulting in direct and indirect costs of over $30 billion over that 10-year period, says NPS MedicineWise.
Adding to the projected burden, approximately 40% of those taking osteoporosis medicines are insufficiently adherent to obtain full clinical benefit – poor adherence to treatment is associated with higher risk of fractures and hospitalisation.
“Health professionals have an important role to play in preventing the health burden associated with fractures due to osteoporosis,” says Dr Andrew Boyden, NPS MedicineWise Clinical Adviser.
“Unfortunately osteoporosis is a silent condition – under-recognised and under-treated in many Australians over the age of 50, even after a minimal trauma fracture.
“This is an important point because following an initial minimal trauma fracture, the risk of repeat fractures is doubled.
“When people who are eligible for osteoporosis medicines remain untreated, it can have a follow on effect that leads to burdens of subsequent fracture, hospital admission, impaired quality of life and premature mortality.”
The lack of recognition of the condition is affecting Australian men in particular, and in one sample 90% of men eligible for osteoporosis medicines were untreated.
“Working with patients to improve adherence is also key,” says Dr Boyden.
“Those taking less than 50% of their prescribed osteoporosis medicines have the same fracture risk as untreated patients. It is important to explain to patients that it can take between 6 and 12 months for osteoporosis medicines to reduce fracture risk.”
The new NPS MedicineWise osteoporosis program includes a focus on:
- Identifying men and women with a high minimal trauma fracture risk and how to prevent repeat fractures
- Starting treatment in high-risk patients
- Navigating through the most effective medicines choices and the PBS and MBS restrictions for medicines and BMD testing using DXA
- Discussing the importance of adherence with patients.
The suite of resources and tools is underpinned by an evidence base, current guidelines and best practice and includes:
- An accredited educational visiting program: Preventing fractures: where to start with osteoporosis
- Medicinewise News health professional publication: Osteoporosis: preventing bone fractures
- Online Case Study: Preventing fractures: where to start with osteoporosis
- Bone Health Action Plan (a resource to assist patients in managing bone health and osteoporosis medicines)
- Specialist videos.
For more information, visit www.nps.org.au/osteoporosis.