Rise In Use Of Common Osteoporosis Drugs Among Canadian Seniors

February 13, 2009 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

The number of Canadian seniors using a common drug therapy to prevent bone deterioration due to osteoporosis increased significantly over the past six years, but a new study shows men are far less likely than women to be using the drugs. The study, published today by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), examines trends in public drug claims among seniors for bisphosphonates, a class of drugs used to treat osteoporosis and prevent fractures. The study looked at the drug claims of more than one million seniors from six provinces – Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Between 2001 and 2007, the proportion of seniors using the three bisphosphonates studied (etidronate, alendronate and risedronate) increased in each of the studied provinces. The overall rate of bisphosphonate use among seniors grew by 45%, from 8.9% to 12.9%. When bisphosphonate use due to the growth in the senior claimant population (9%) during this time period is added, there was a 55% increase in the number of bisphosphonate users.

“Osteoporosis affects up to one in four women and one in eight men over the age of 50 in Canada. But while women are twice as likely to have the disorder, CIHI’s study shows they are six times more likely to be using bisphosphonates,” says Dr. Diane Thériault, Medical Director at the Dartmouth Osteoporosis Multidisciplinary Education Program in Nova Scotia. “This raises questions about whether men are being under-diagnosed and under-treated for the disorder, which could have serious consequences for seniors and their families.”

In 2006-2007, 20.4% of Canadian senior women across the provinces included in the study were using bisphosphonates (or 1 in 5 senior women), compared to 3.3% of all men 65 and older (or 1 in 30 senior men).

“One of the greatest concerns for osteoporosis patients and their families is hip fractures and their associated complications,” says Michael Hunt, Manager of Pharmaceuticals at CIHI. “An estimated 70% of hip fractures in Canada are osteoporosis related. Monitoring the use of preventive therapies for hip fractures, such as bisphosphonates, can help practitioners understand what is and what isn’t working for these patients.”

Introduction of new therapies led to shifts in bisphosphonate use

Bisphosphonates were first introduced in 1995 in the form of a daily-dose therapy, followed by the introduction, in 2002, of a weekly therapy. This resulted in a significant shift toward the use of bisphosphonates on a weekly regimen. Of the daily bisphosphonates users in 2001-2002 who were still on drug therapy in 2006-2007, just more than 59% had switched to weekly bisphosphonate therapy in 2006-2007.

About CIHI

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) collects and analyzes information on health and health care in Canada and makes it publicly available. Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments created CIHI as a not-for-profit, independent organization dedicated to forging a common approach to Canadian health information. CIHI’s goal: to provide timely, accurate and comparable information. CIHI’s data and reports inform health policies, support the effective delivery of health services and raise awareness among Canadians of the factors that contribute to good health.

Canadian Institute for Health Information

[Via http://www.medicalnewstoday.com]


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