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For immediate release
May 5, 2000

JUST 1 IN 5 OSTEOPOROSIS PATIENTS RECEIVE PHARMACEUTICAL TREATMENT; SITUATION CALLED "A SCANDAL" BY COORDINATOR OF IOF STUDY

IOF calls for reimbursement of bone density testing

LYON, France

Just one in five people with osteoporosis receives pharmaceutical treatment, according to a new study.

The report, sponsored by IOF-The International Osteoporosis Foundation, also notes that overall awareness of osteoporosis among both the general population and physicians is low in most of the 19 countries surveyed.

Surprisingly, awareness seems unrelated to a country's economic condition – a high level of awareness is reported by Portugal and Lebanon, for example, while awareness is low in Belgium and Germany.

The study, "Survey of osteoporosis awareness and the availability of diagnostic tools", surveyed the situation of osteoporosis awareness and treatment in 19 countries in which IOF has member national societies. The countries are mostly in Europe, but also include Lebanon, China and Argentina. The responses are largely anecdotal, and the report calls for more detailed research.

Patient care differs widely.

For example, patients with osteoporosis in Slovakia, Italy and Poland are likely to receive pharmaceutical treatment; while patients in China, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia and the UK are unlikely to get the treatment they need.

Prof. Helmut Minne of Germany, a member of IOF's International Board and coordinator of the two-year study, noted "it's a particular scandal that in the overwhelming majority of countries surveyed, patients who have had a hip fracture are not provided with pharmaceutical treatment during follow-up – even though this is known to minimize the risk of new fractures."

Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones, characterised by a decrease in bone mass and density that increases the risk of broken bones, particularly to the spine, wrist, hip, pelvis and upper arm.

Worldwide, about one in three women and one in eight men over the age of 50 risk having an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetimes, according to IOF.

The study notes differing perceptions about the value of hormone replacement therapy, HRT.

HRT is accepted by physicians in nine out of 16 countries surveyed as a method of preventing osteoporosis, but in most countries the women themselves have mixed feelings towards it.

Although bone mass measurement is available in all 16 European countries surveyed, and is in routine use in 13 of them, seven of these countries offer no or only restricted reimbursement for bone densitometry.

"This study provides additional evidence that European legislators are not doing all they should to protect their citizens from osteoporosis," says Mary Anderson, IOF executive director. "The key issue is reimbursement. For example, Germany has recently stopped reimbursing bone mass measurements in patients who have not experienced a fracture. This opens the door to a situation where only the rich can get their bones tested. Unfortunately, the conditions are only little better or even worse in other European countries."

The number of densitometers used to measure bone mass, the prime indicator of osteoporosis, varies enormously, from less than one per million population (China, Lithuania) to more than ten per million (eg Belgium, Germany, Portugal).

"The survey results are worrying. They highlight the frustration experienced by European IOF member national societies, where in many cases apathy and ignorance are the dominant responses to osteoporosis by professionals and public," according to Prof. Minne, who works as a clinical osteologist in Germany. "In contrast, osteoporosis awareness has improved markedly in the Lebanon despite its weaker economic condition."

"The beneficial result should be a reminder to developed countries not to become complacent. Osteoporosis awareness and availability of diagnosis and treatment do not automatically go hand in hand with economic development," Prof. Minne adds.

The second phase of the study, which will survey other regions of the world, is underway. Results are expected during 2000.

The full report is available at the IOF website:
http://www.osteofound.org/activities/
international_survey.html

For interview with Dr. Helmut Minne, please contact:
fuerstenhof.minne@t-online.de

For general information about IOF, please contact:
info@osteofound.org

To contact the IOF member national society in one of the 19 countries surveyed, please see list below.

Argentina:
Sociedad Argentina de Osteoporosis (SAEM)
E-mail: sao@connmed.com.ar
 
Belgium:
Belgian Bone Club
E-mail: jj.body@bordet.be
 
China:
Osteoporosis Committee of China Gerontological Society
E-mail: cgsoc@hns.cjfh.ac.cn
 
Czech Republic:
Czech Society for Metabolic Skeletal Disease
E-mail: mbayer@lf1.cuni.cz
 
Germany:
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Osteologie
E-mail: Prof.Dr.Dr.E.Keck@t-online.de
 
German Academy of the Osteological & Rheumatological Sciences
E-mail: fuerstenhof.minne@t-online.de
 
Hungary:
Hungarian Society for Osteoporosis and Osteoarthrology
E-mail: drmarton@elender.hu
 
Greece:
Hellenic Society for the Study of Bone Metabolism
Phone: +30 1 623 15 41
Fax: +30 1 801 81 22
 
Italy:
Italian Society for Mineral Metabolism
E-mail: nutir@unisi.it
 
Italian Society for Osteoporosis (SIOP)
E-mail: crepaldi@uxl.unipd.it
 
Lega Italiana Osteoporosi
E-mail: ml.bianchi@auxologico.inet.it
 
Lebanon:
Lebanese Osteoporosis Prevention Society (LOPS and PAOS)
E-mail: osteo@lynx.net.lb or gn@xnet.com.lb
 
Lithuania:
Lithuanian Endocrine Society
E-mail: endoinst@KMA.lt
 
Norway:
Norwegian Society for Rheumatology
Phone: +47 23 07 35 51
Fax: +47 23 07 48 69
 
Poland:
Polish Foundation of Osteoporosis
E-mail: fundacja@pfo.com.pl
 
Portugal:
Ass. Portuguesa de Osteoporose (APO)
E-mail: dparaujo@mail.telepac.pt
 
Associacao Nacional contra a Osteoporose (APOROS)
E-mail: viviana.tavares@netc.pt
 
Slovakia:
Slovak Society for Osteoporosis & Metabolic Bone Diseases
E-mail: masaryk@vurch.sk
 
Slovenia:
Slovene Bone Society
E-mail: ursa.gantar@kclj.si
 
Spain:
Fundacion Hispana de Osteoporosi y Enfermedades Metabolicas (FHOEMO)
E-mail: fhoemo@mail.todoesp.es
 
Sociedad Espanola de Investigaciones Oseas y Metabolismo Mineral (SEIOMM)
E-mail: 85382@imas.imim.es
 
Switzerland:
Association Suisse contre l'Ostéoporose
E-mail: Peter.Burckhardt@chuv.hospvd.ch
 
The Netherlands:
Osteoporose Vereniging
E-mail: osteoporose@wxs.nl
 
Osteoporose Stichting
E-mail: c.netelen@azvu.nl
 
UK:
National Osteoporosis Society
E-mail: l.edwards@nos.org.uk or d.thatcher@nos.org.uk

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