Prescribing rates for osteoporosis medications continue to spiral downwards to the point where only a fraction of patients with clear evidence of osteoporosis receive the drugs, new data show.
The study, based on a US population of commercially insured patients, was published online July 20 in JAMA Network Open.
In 2004, only 9.8% of patients who had sustained a hip fracture were prescribed an osteoporosis medication, Rishi Desai, PhD, an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate epidemiologist, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues report.
In 2015, only 3.3% of patients who sustained a hip fracture were prescribed any osteoporosis medication within 180 days of being hospitalized.
The authors estimate that for every 100 patients followed for 1 year, there was an excess of 4.2 nonvertebral fractures among untreated patients compared with patients who received appropriate therapy.
“To give you an analogy, some people may be taking a statin prior to a heart attack, but once they have a heart attack, statins are recommended for virtually every patient. And in that situation, at least 70% to 75% of patients get put on a statin,” Desai told Medscape Medical News.
“So if you compare that scenario to this situation, it’s actually pretty bad because prescribing initiation rates were not great to begin with, and now almost nobody is getting put on these treatments, which is unfortunate because a lot of future fractures are preventable,” he added.
In an accompanying editorial, Douglas Bauer, MD, professor of medicine, epidemiology, and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, observes that it is almost universally agreed that patients who have had a hip or vertebral facture have osteoporosis. As such, they are at high risk for future fracture and should be routinely treated for osteoporosis.
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