Osteoporosis represents a significant and increasing healthcare burden in Europe, but most patients at increased risk of fracture do not receive medication, resulting in a large treatment gap. Identification of patients who are at particularly high risk will help clinicians target appropriate treatment more precisely and cost-effectively, and should be the focus of future research.
Introduction: The purpose of the study was to review data on the identification and treatment of patients with osteoporosis at increased risk of fracture.
Methods: A working group convened by the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis met to review current data on the epidemiology and burden of osteoporosis and the patterns of medical management throughout Europe.
Results: In Europe in 2010, the cost of managing osteoporosis was estimated at €37 billion and notably the costs of treatment and long-term care of patients with fractures were considerably higher than the costs for pharmacological prevention. Despite the availability of effective treatments, the uptake of osteoporosis therapy is low and declining, in particular for secondary fracture prevention where the risk of a subsequent fracture following a first fracture is high. Consequently, there is a significant treatment gap between those who would benefit from treatment and those who receive it, which urgently needs to be addressed so that the burden of disease can be reduced.
Conclusions: Implementation of global fracture prevention strategies is a critical need. Future research should focus on identifying specific risk factors for imminent fractures, periods of high fracture risk, patients who are at increased risk of fracture and therapies that are most suited to such high-risk patients and optimal implementation strategies in primary, secondary and tertiary care.
Keywords: Fracture risk; Healthcare burden; Management; Osteoporosis; Secondary prevention; Treatment gap.