Drug Treatments for Osteoporosis

10 Jul 2017

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has today issued its latest Multiple Technology Appraisal (MTA) on the use of bisphosphonates to prevent fractures caused by osteoporosis. Bisphosphonates are the most common prescription medicines for osteoporosis and include alendronic acid, risedronate, ibandronate and zoledronic acid.

An MTA is designed to look at whether medicines work, and whether they are cost-effective, and NICE has concluded that men and women who are at risk of breaking a bone can be prescribed a bisphosphonate when their doctor believes they would benefit.

Decisions made by NICE in an MTA are mandatory which means that these drugs must be funded through the NHS for everyone who needs them.

Anne Thurston, Head of Policy at the charity, says, “We welcome this clear guidance from NICE which says that cost will not be a barrier to these treatments for people at risk of a fracture from osteoporosis. Doctors need to look at a number of risk factors when they decide whether somebody would benefit from taking a medicine, and discuss the risks and benefits for that person.

“Now that NICE has issued this appraisal, we need to make sure that doctors are given the information they need to support their decisions about which patients need a treatment. Osteoporosis and fractures cause pain, disability and loss of independence and as a charity we are dedicated to ensuring that people have the care and support they need to live well with the condition. This MTA is a useful step in the right direction in the fight against broken bones.”

The purpose of Multiple Technology Appraisals are to assess the clinical and cost effectiveness of health technologies which include medicines and medical devices. This is to ensure that all NHS patients have equal access to the most clinically-effective (drugs that work) and cost-effective treatments available. The new guidance does not affect anyone who is already on a bisphosphonate. Drugs that are recommended through a NICE MTA must be made available on the NHS.

Further information on MTAs is available on the NICE website, along with further information on the MTA on bisphosphonates.

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