Denosumab, raloxifene, romosozumab and teriparatide to prevent osteoporotic fragility fractures: a systematic review and economic evaluation

Health Technol Assess. 2020 Jun;24(29):1-314. doi: 10.3310/hta24290.


Background: Fragility fractures are fractures that result from mechanical forces that would not ordinarily result in fracture.

Objectives: The objectives were to evaluate the clinical effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of non-bisphosphonates {denosumab [Prolia®; Amgen Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA, USA], raloxifene [Evista®; Daiichi Sankyo Company, Ltd, Tokyo, Japan], romosozumab [Evenity®; Union Chimique Belge (UCB) S.A. (Brussels, Belgium) and Amgen Inc.] and teriparatide [Forsteo®; Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, IN, USA]}, compared with each other, bisphosphonates or no treatment, for the prevention of fragility fracture.

Data sources: For the clinical effectiveness review, nine electronic databases (including MEDLINE, EMBASE and the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform) were searched up to July 2018.

Review methods: A systematic review and network meta-analysis of fracture and femoral neck bone mineral density were conducted. A review of published economic analyses was undertaken and a model previously used to evaluate bisphosphonates was adapted. Discrete event simulation was used to estimate lifetime costs and quality-adjusted life-years for a simulated cohort of patients with heterogeneous characteristics. This was done for each non-bisphosphonate treatment, a strategy of no treatment, and the five bisphosphonate treatments previously evaluated. The model was populated with effectiveness evidence from the systematic review and network meta-analysis. All other parameters were estimated from published sources. An NHS and Personal Social Services perspective was taken, and costs and benefits were discounted at 3.5% per annum. Fracture risk was estimated from patient characteristics using the QFracture® (QFracture-2012 open source revision 38, Clinrisk Ltd, Leeds, UK) and FRAX® (web version 3.9, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK) tools. The relationship between fracture risk and incremental net monetary benefit was estimated using non-parametric regression. A probabilistic sensitivity analysis and scenario analyses were used to assess uncertainty.

Results: Fifty-two randomised controlled trials of non-bisphosphonates were included in the clinical effectiveness systematic review and an additional 51 randomised controlled trials of bisphosphonates were included in the network meta-analysis. All treatments had beneficial effects compared with placebo for vertebral, non-vertebral and hip fractures, with hazard ratios varying from 0.23 to 0.94, depending on treatment and fracture type. The effects on vertebral fractures and the percentage change in bone mineral density were statistically significant for all treatments. The rate of serious adverse events varied across trials (0-33%), with most between-group differences not being statistically significant for comparisons with placebo/no active treatment, non-bisphosphonates or bisphosphonates. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were > £20,000 per quality-adjusted life-year for all non-bisphosphonate interventions compared with no treatment across the range of QFracture and FRAX scores expected in the population eligible for fracture risk assessment. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for denosumab may fall below £30,000 per quality-adjusted life-year at very high levels of risk or for high-risk patients with specific characteristics. Raloxifene was dominated by no treatment (resulted in fewer quality-adjusted life-years) in most risk categories.

Limitations: The incremental cost-effectiveness ratios are uncertain for very high-risk patients.

Conclusions: Non-bisphosphonates are effective in preventing fragility fractures, but the incremental cost-effectiveness ratios are generally greater than the commonly applied threshold of £20,000-30,000 per quality-adjusted life-year.

Study registration: This study is registered as PROSPERO CRD42018107651.

Funding: This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment programme and will be published in full in Health Technology Assessment; Vol. 24, No. 29. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.


Plain language summary

Background: Fragility fractures are fractures that result from mechanical forces that would not ordinarily result in fracture, known as low-level (or ‘low-energy’) trauma. Some people are at particularly high risk of fragility fractures. The first treatment used is often a bisphosphonate, but non-bisphosphonate treatments are alternatives.

Aims: We aimed to determine how effective non-bisphosphonates {denosumab [Prolia®; Amgen Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA, USA], raloxifene [Evista®; Daiichi Sankyo Company, Ltd, Tokyo, Japan], romosozumab [Evenity®; Union Chimique Belge (UCB) S.A. (Brussels, Belgium) and Amgen Inc.] and teriparatide [Forsteo®; Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, IN, USA]} are at preventing fractures, whether or not treatment has any risks for patients and whether or not the clinical benefits are achieved at a reasonable cost.

Methods: We have systematically identified and examined trials that assessed the clinical effects of non-bisphosphonates. For each clinical outcome, we have combined data from multiple trials to estimate the clinical effectiveness of each non-bisphosphonate treatment. We combined data from published sources in an economic model to estimate lifetime costs and clinical benefits for each non-bisphosphonate and compared these with the estimated costs and clinical outcomes for untreated patients and patients treated with bisphosphonates.

Results: All non-bisphosphonates reduced the risk of vertebral fractures compared with no treatment. For fractures at the hip or at any non-vertebral site, all of the non-bisphosphonates reduced the average number of fractures, but, for some non-bisphosphonates, we could not exclude the possibility that this was a chance finding. The chance of patients experiencing serious side effects was generally similar regardless of whether patients took non-bisphosphonates, bisphosphonates or placebo (a dummy pill). Blood clots were more common in patients taking raloxifene than in those taking placebo, but these were still a rare outcome (fewer than 1 in 100). The benefits of denosumab, teriparatide and romosozumab are few compared with their costs. For raloxifene, the risks generally outweigh the benefits. Treatment with bisphosphonates is likely to represent better value for money than treatment with non-bisphosphonates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Denosumab / therapeutic use*
  • Diphosphonates / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Osteoporotic Fractures* / drug therapy
  • Osteoporotic Fractures* / prevention & control
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Raloxifene Hydrochloride / therapeutic use*
  • Teriparatide / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Diphosphonates
  • Teriparatide
  • Denosumab
  • Raloxifene Hydrochloride