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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Bone therapy access row

9th September 2009

A leading physician has warned that thousands of post-menopausal women across England and Wales suffer from broken bones every year because they are being denied access to effective osteoporosis drugs.


Professor David Reid from the University of Aberdeen believes the current guidance on the subject from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is too restrictive and he wants to see a review move forward more quickly.

The drug Alendronate is recommended by NICE as a possible treatment in postmenopausal women who have already had a fracture due to osteoporosis, though there can be problems taking this.

NICE does recommend alternatives, but with several restrictions on their use.

Professor Reid, who is chair of the National Osteosporosis Society, said the NICE guidance was driven by cost, but he said the alternative treatments were not that expensive.

He gave the example of zoledronic acid which costs £250 for an annual injection, compared to £50 for Alendronate.

Professor Reid said about 20% of women who have a fracture of the spine will have another fracture within 12 months.

NICE said the guidance should mean that post-menopausal women were given consistent access to the most cost-effective treatments.

New guidelines on osteoporosis are planned but being held up because of legal issues.

Osteoporosis can results from normal ageing, with the most common fractures in the spine, wrists and hips. Women who have gone through the menopause are at increased risk because they no longer produce the oestrogen, which protects against bone loss.


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