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Osteoporosis: Drugs

Volume 461: debated on Monday 18 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps are being taken to ensure that the recent National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidance on drugs to treat osteoporosis is being fully implemented; (143113)

(2) what steps are being taken to (a) encourage osteoporosis patients to comply with their medication and (b) inform patients of alternative products which allow for less frequent treatments;

(3) what education and treatment programmes are being introduced to stem the anticipated future rise in osteoporosis;

(4) what (a) (i) guidance and (ii) training she is providing to medical practitioners and (b) guidance she is providing to the public to mitigate the effects of the expected rise in the incidence of osteoporosis.

There is a statutory duty for health bodies to provide funding for drug treatments recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) within three months of the guidance being issued.

Osteoporosis can often be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and, through a range of initiatives, the Department is raising awareness of the importance of regular exercise, a balanced diet, smoking prevention/cessation and a responsible attitude to alcohol consumption in the prevention of a range of conditions, including osteoporosis.

The Department has also asked NICE to produce a clinical guideline on the assessment of risk fracture and prevention of osteoporotic fractures in individuals at high risk.

The training of medical practitioners is the responsibility of the royal colleges. The National Library for Health clinical knowledge summaries website at offers advice on the management of a range of conditions and symptoms, including osteoporosis, that are commonly seen in primary care. The guidance is advisory and has been developed to assist healthcare professionals, together with patients, make decisions about the management of the patient’s health.

It is the responsibility of health professionals to provide patients with information on the most appropriate treatment regime based on a clinical assessment of their individual situation. This information should also include the importance of compliance with medication and any recommended lifestyle changes.