Osteoporotic fractures cost European Union healthcare systems more than €37 billion annually, according to a new report by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF). This financial burden will grow by 25 per cent by 2025 as populations age and high-risk individuals do not receive proper diagnosis and treatment, the report warns.
The study showed that about 22 million women and 5.5 million men in the EU suffer from osteoporosis. By 2025 the total number is expected to rise by 23%, reaching 33.9 million. Osteoporosis-related fractures are linked to pain, long-term disability, sometimes even premature death. Every year, 3.5 million fragility fractures occur, of which 620,000 are hip fractures, 520,000 are vertebral fractures and 560,000 are forearm fractures. According to the report, the total number of new fractures recorded annually will rise to 4.5 million in 2025.
The major problem remains the significant gap between the number of treated individuals and those who could be eligible for treatment on account of being at high risk of fractures, according to Professor Juliet Compston, chair of the European Osteoporosis Consultation Panel. This is despite the fact that numerous advances have been made in the past two decades. These include effective new medicines for treatment and prevention, greater availability of practice guidelines and the creation of risk assessment models facilitating the identification of high-risk individuals.
IOF president John A. Kanis added that fracture prevention should be given a central place in national healthcare strategies. This means, among other things, the implementation of national guidelines on prevention and treatment, the establishment of fracture liaison services so that high-risk patients can be identified and speedier reimbursement of treatment and medication costs, Kanis noted.