The 2013 European Congress on Osteoporosis & Osteoarthritis opened in Rome on Wednesday. Coinciding with the launch of the event was the release of a report which revealed the staggering economic cost of osteoporosis for EU member states. This is the first publication to cover all 27 countries in the bloc and examine in detail osteoporosis epidemiology, burden and treatment. The direct economic cost was estimated at €37 billion in 2010 and the amount is expected to grow by 25% through to 2025.
The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), which collaborated on the report, released a statement with some of the key findings of the study. Osteoporotic fractures caused the death of 43,000 people in 2010 and it is estimated that osteoporosis afflicts 22 million women and 5.5 million men across the EU. The annual number of new fragility fractures is 3.5 million. Among those, 610,000 are hip fractures, 520,000 vertebral fractures and 560,000 forearm fractures.
Professor John Kanis, president of the IOF, expressed serious concern over some of the findings. Central among them is the fact that EU health systems are not prepared to cope with the surging number of fractures resulting from osteoporosis. There is a failure to identify high-risk individuals on a routine basis and offer them treatment. The study established that patient numbers were falling although more people require treatment. The population of Europe is aging and the osteoporosis management model has to change, making it sustainable for a future where fracture incidence and healthcare costs will continue to rise, Professor Kanis stated.