Objective: To determine the clinical and cost-effectiveness of vitamin K in preventing osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women.
Data sources: Searches were conducted in May 2007 in MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process, EMBASE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, BIOSIS, CINAHL, DARE, NHS EED and HTA databases, AMED, NRR, Science Citation Index and Current Controlled Trials. The MEDLINE search was updated in March 2009.
Review methods: Selected studies were assessed and subjected to data extraction and quality assessment using standard methods. Where appropriate, meta-analysis was carried out. A mathematical model was constructed to estimate the cost-effectiveness of vitamin K1.
Results: The electronic literature searches identified 1078 potentially relevant articles. Of these, 14 articles relating to five trials that compared vitamin K with a relevant comparator in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis or osteopenia met the review inclusion criteria. The double-blind ECKO trial compared 5 mg of phylloquinone (vitamin K1) with placebo in Canadian women with osteopenia but without osteoporosis. Four open-label trials used 45 mg of menatetrenone (vitamin K2) in Japanese women with osteoporosis; the comparators were no treatment, etidronate or calcium. The methodological quality of the ECKO trial was good; however, all four menatetrenone trials were poorly reported and three were very small (n < 100 in each group). Phylloquinone was associated with a statistically significant reduction in the risk of clinical fractures relative to placebo [relative risk 0.46, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.22 to 0.99]; morphometric vertebral fractures were not reported. The smaller menatetrenone trials found that menatetrenone was associated with a reduced risk of morphometric vertebral fractures relative to no treatment or calcium; however, the larger Osteoporosis Fracture (OF) study found no evidence of a reduction in vertebral fracture risk. The three smaller trials found no significant difference between treatment groups in non-vertebral fracture incidence. In the ECKO trial, phylloquinone was not associated with an increase in adverse events. In the menatetrenone trials, adverse event reporting was generally poor; however, in the OF study, menatetrenone was associated with a significantly higher incidence of skin and skin appendage lesions. No published economic evaluations of vitamin K were found and a mathematical model was thus constructed to estimate the cost-effectiveness of vitamin K1. Comparators were alendronate, risedronate and strontium ranelate. Vitamin K1 and alendronate were markedly more cost-effective than either risedronate or strontium ranelate. The base-case results favoured vitamin K1, but this relied on many assumptions, particularly on the efficacy of preventing hip and vertebral fractures. Calculation of the expected value of sampled information was conducted assuming a randomised controlled trial of 5 years' duration comparing alendronate with vitamin K1. The costs incurred in obtaining updated efficacy data from a trial with 2000 women per arm were estimated to be a cost-effective use of resources.
Conclusions: There is currently large uncertainty over whether vitamin K1 is more cost-effective than alendronate; further research is required. It is unlikely that the present prescribing policy (i.e. alendronate as first-line treatment) would be altered.