Studies show that though it is of common sense that treatment should be continued over a period of time, it unfortunately is not common practice especially among patients suffering from osteoporosis . The recent studies conducted by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) found that lack of regime to a prescribed therapy is a 'worldwide problem of striking magnitude'. They warn that if this adherence gap continues, in 2050, the worldwide cost of burden of treatment would increase to a minimum of US1.5 billion.
But cost aside it would be the unfortunate truth that would also mean there will be more people who will lose their mobility, independence and productivity as a result of osteoporosis. As a result, more families will have the responsibilities to give care for family members, which could mean further loss of productivity.
Explaining that osteoporosis, a disease of the bone, that usually affects 1 in every 3 women and 1 in every 5 man. This disease reduces the density and quality of the bone that leads to weakness of the skeleton and increased risk of fracture. The most common sites for osteoporotic fracture are the spine, hip and wrist.
Prof. Jean-Yves Reginster, of the University of Liege, Belgium, said that it is treatable condition, yet lack of faithfulness to treatment is a huge problem, with many patients finding it difficult to continue with medication for the recommended long-term period. Professor Reginster is the head of the university's Center for Investigation in Bone and Articular Cartilage Metabolism.
The IOF report stated that approximately half of patients stop their treatment within a year, losing the bone building benefits these treatments can only provide over time. Due to this the report states that, the patients put themselves at an increased risk of suffering fractures and losing their mobility and productivity.
The IOF had recently launched the report in a campaign, 'Staying Power: Closing the Adherence Gap in Osteoporosis,' in Vienna. Health journalists from Europe and Asia attended the launching ceremonies that also introduced international film star Britt Ekland, who is now taking treatment for osteoporosis.
Paul Sochaczewski, IOF head of communications, said: the reports indicate that there is a global problem about people not staying on their osteoporosis treatment. Explaining that they call it the 'adherence gap.' He said that they are starting a worldwide campaign to get individuals, patient groups, healthcare professionals and physicians and government health authorities to address this very serious problem.
Prof. Reginster pointed out that aside from the direct cost of the disease, such as medical expenses, it is the indirect costs that should encourage patients with osteoporosis to adhere to therapy. He warned that if people do not adhere to the treatment they would face greater risk of fractures and very high chances of suffering from another one too.
He further explained that even those who might survive a fracture would face some other problems in their health. The report gave an example that after a hip fracture, over 95 percent of patients require reparative surgery and of these, less than one-third will regain normal functioning. A further third will have to give up independent living and need constant care. It was also explained that if the patients take their treatment with all earnestly the prevalence and impact of fractures could be greatly reduced.
The report explains that bisphosphonate treatments for osteoporosis have been found to reduce the risk of hospitalization for osteoporosis fractures by 20-30%. The protective effect is highest in patients who have used bisphosphonates consistently for more than a year.
The report also explains that the biggest reason for people not sticking to the treatment is because osteoporosis is an "invisible disease" and there are no immediate benefits from taking treatment. Prof. Reginster explains that it would be very difficult to keep on taking medication that does not make a person feel any better. But he said that there is no quick fix to strengthen bones effectively and treatment generally needs to be taken at least a year.
Unfortunately though the patient's resistance comes usually from the inconvenient treatment regimen. It was explained that patients might have to fast before and after taking their treatment and stay upright afterwards for a specific length of time. It was also reported that a more convenient once-a-month dose for treatment was introduced recently and this does presents a way to solve the adherence gap. But as this drug should be taken only once a month, patients are expected to adhere to the prescribed treatment period of a year or more.
The IOF aims to remedy the adherence gap with the information campaign to make people aware of the effects of stopping therapy for osteoporosis.