Rise in use of common osteoporosis drugs among Canadian seniors

    Women six times more likely to use bisphosphonates than men

    OTTAWA, Feb. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - The number of Canadian seniors using a
common drug therapy to prevent bone deterioration due to osteoporosis
increased significantly over the past six years, but a new study shows men are
far less likely than women to be using the drugs. The study, published today
by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), examines trends in
public drug claims among seniors for bisphosphonates, a class of drugs used to
treat osteoporosis and prevent fractures. The study looked at the drug claims
of more than one million seniors from six provinces-Alberta, Saskatchewan,
Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
    Between 2001 and 2007, the proportion of seniors using the three
bisphosphonates studied (etidronate, alendronate and risedronate) increased in
each of the studied provinces. The overall rate of bisphosphonate use among
seniors grew by 45%, from 8.9% to 12.9%. When bisphosphonate use due to the
growth in the senior claimant population (9%) during this time period is
added, there was a 55% increase in the number of bisphosphonate users.
    "Osteoporosis affects up to one in four women and one in eight men over
the age of 50 in Canada. But while women are twice as likely to have the
disorder, CIHI's study shows they are six times more likely to be using
bisphosphonates," says Dr. Diane Thériault, Medical Director at the Dartmouth
Osteoporosis Multidisciplinary Education Program in Nova Scotia. "This raises
questions about whether men are being under-diagnosed and under-treated for
the disorder, which could have serious consequences for seniors and their
    In 2006-2007, 20.4% of Canadian senior women across the provinces
included in the study were using bisphosphonates (or 1 in 5 senior women),
compared to 3.3% of all men 65 and older (or 1 in 30 senior men).
    "One of the greatest concerns for osteoporosis patients and their
families is hip fractures and their associated complications," says Michael
Hunt, Manager of Pharmaceuticals at CIHI. "An estimated 70% of hip fractures
in Canada are osteoporosis related. Monitoring the use of preventive therapies
for hip fractures, such as bisphosphonates, can help practitioners understand
what is and what isn't working for these patients."

    Introduction of new therapies led to shifts in bisphosphonate use

    Bisphosphonates were first introduced in 1995 in the form of a daily-dose
therapy, followed by the introduction, in 2002, of a weekly therapy. This
resulted in a significant shift toward the use of bisphosphonates on a weekly
regimen. Of the daily bisphosphonates users in 2001-2002 who were still on
drug therapy in 2006-2007, just more than 59% had switched to weekly
bisphosphonate therapy in 2006-2007.

    About CIHI

    The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) collects and
analyzes information on health and health care in Canada and makes it publicly
available. Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments created
CIHI as a not-for-profit, independent organization dedicated to forging a
common approach to Canadian health information. CIHI's goal: to provide
timely, accurate and comparable information. CIHI's data and reports inform
health policies, support the effective delivery of health services and raise
awareness among Canadians of the factors that contribute to good health.

    The report and the following figures are available from CIHI's website at

    Figure 1  Percentage Rate of Bisphosphonate Use Among Seniors on Public
              Drug Programs in Select Provinces, by Age Group and Gender,
              2006-2007 (Figure 2 in analysis)

    Figure 2  Percentage Rate of Bisphosphonate Use Among Seniors on Public
              Drug Programs in Select Provinces, by Dosage Interval,
              2001-2002 to 2006-2007 (Figure 6 in analysis)

For further information:

For further information: Leona Hollingsworth, (416) 481-2002 ext. 3251,
Cell: (416) 459-6855, lhollingsworth@cihi.ca; Jennie Hoekstra, (613) 241-7860
ext. 4331, Cell: (613) 725-4097, jhoekstra@cihi.ca

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