Affecting more than half of population aged over 80, osteoporosis represents an emergency in terms of social relevance and economic - healthcare costs. The European Society of Endocrinology seizes the opportunity of the World Osteoporosis Day to meet European Authorities andset forth a proposal of shared healthcare policies that may produce large-scale benefits and improve people's health and State budgets.
"Fragility fractures have an important economic impact. The direct costs (hospitalizations) only in Italy account for around 9 billion euros. 1 more billion of indirect costs, such as rehabilitation costs and losses due to absence from work, has to be added. We find the same situation in the rest of EU Statesas well - says Prof. Andrea Giustina, Professor of Endocrinologyat San Raffaele Hospital in Milanand President-Electof the European Society of Endocrinology - The three-point document we will set forth to the EP members proposes some cost-effective measures of clinical practice aimed at limiting costs and drastically reducingthe incidence of this disease."
The document prepared by the ESE is set out in 3 points:
Tackling hypovitaminosis D: most European people (mainly in Southern Europe) show vitamin D deficiency, the hormone synthetized by human skin through sunlight exposure which is essential to bone mineralization. When a vitamin D deficiency is shown, a cholecalciferol supplementation is required.
Early diagnosis of vertebral fractures: often underrated, and characterized by non-specific or absent painful symptoms, and therefore late-diagnosed, vertebral fractures represent an important risk factor for further vertebral column and femur fractures. Beside primary and secondary prevention it's essential to promote an education to tertiary prevention and timely diagnostics in which the morphometric identification in carriers of vertebral fractures becomes the key point for a policy aimed at the reduction of poly-fracture events as well as the increase of direct and indirect costs.
Access and adherence to therapies: recent studies have shown that more than 50% of women with osteoporosis do not start the anti-osteoporotic pharmacologic treatment, and that only a small percentage of those who undergo such treatment continue the treatment for more than 1 year. According to the ESE, it is essential to start information policies for doctors and population in general in order to help the proper access to treatments and the adherence to therapies.
"European endocrinologists wish that this agenda of intervention might gain the widest consent among Institutions and are ready to help in order to find in practice the most effective instruments to implement intervention on the mentioned criticalities. They also commit themselves to verify the execution and effectiveness of said instruments 12 months hence," concludes Giustina.