Osteoporosis Treatment for Preventing First Fracture

SOME osteoporosis medications have been recommended for reimbursement on the PBS for use in the prevention of osteoporotic fractures in older Australians.

Osteoporosis medication risedronate (trade names Actonel and Actonel Combi) has this week been recommended for reimbursement on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for the prevention of osteoporotic fractures for patients aged 70 years or over with a low bone density (T-score of -3.0 or less).

Sanofi-aventis and Proctor & Gamble expect Actonel to be made available on the PBS for this indication around 1 August 2007.

Until now, subsidised access to this osteoporosis medication had been restricted to those who had already suffered an osteoporotic fracture.

As of 1 April, the Federal Government will also provide subsidised bone mineral density (BMD) scans under Medicare for Australians over 70 to help identify those at increased risk of fracture.

Professor Markus J. Seibel, director of the Bone Research Program at the ANZAC Research Institute in Sydney & Professor of Endocrinology at Concord Hospital and the University of Sydney, said, "The Federal Government should be applauded for making a significant contribution toward improving the health and wellbeing of the many Australians who suffer from osteoporosis.

"This move will make a big difference to the life of many of our patients," Professor Seibel said.

Up to two million Australians are affected by osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become fragile and brittle and fracture more easily.

Fractures resulting from osteoporosis are major causes of injury and long-term disability, and are associated with death in older Australians.

On average, Professor Seibel said one in two women and one in three men over 60 will develop an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetime2.

"Research shows those with a first fracture are four times more likely to re-fracture in the following year compared with people who have not had a fracture at all1. That is why it is important we make every effort possible to prevent as many fractures as possible in those who are at risk," he said.

"Identifying people with low bone density and initiating appropriate preventative treatment before they suffer a fracture is an important step in controlling the disease, and could significantly reduce the incidence and burden of osteoporotic fractures," Professor Seibel said.

A copy of the consumer medicines information (CMI) can be accessed at www.sanofi-aventis.com.au

Sanofi-aventis is the world's 3rd largest pharmaceutical company, ranking number 1 in Europe. Backed by a world-class R&D organisation, sanofi-aventis is developing leading positions in seven major therapeutic areas: cardiovascular disease, thrombosis, oncology, metabolic diseases, central nervous system, internal medicine, vaccines. Sanofi-aventis is listed in Paris (EURONEXT:SAN) and in New York (NYSE:SNY).

Actonel and Actonel Combi have been developed and marketed in Australia by sanofi-aventis and Procter and Gamble Australia Pty Ltd. The material has been released by Reed Weir Communications Pty Ltd on behalf of sanofi-aventis and Procter and Gamble Australia Pty Ltd.

PBS Information: Authority required. 5 mg, 35 mg and Actonel Combi: treatment of established osteoporosis. 30 mg: treatment of symptomatic Paget's disease of bone. Refer to PBS Schedule for full information.

References: 1. Osteoporosis Australia: Preventing the fracture Cascade - For the General Practitioner - 2004 2. Osteoporosis Australia Fact Sheet: What is Osteoporosis? What are the Risk Factors for Osteoporosis? March 2006. Page 1.