PHILADELPHIA — Men and women are not receiving effective tests or treatments for osteoporosis, largely because of a lack of awareness, Michael McClung, MD, said during a presentation at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists 21st Annual Scientific and Clinical Congress Meeting.
McClung, director of the Oregon Osteoporosis Center in Portland, said many primary care physicians are not aware that national guidelines for the treatment of osteoporosis are available, and they fail to use them as resources.
“Being aware doesn’t help if it doesn’t lead to any good outcomes. The point I made here is that we know how to find the patients who would benefit from osteoporosis treatment,” McClung told Endocrine Today.
“If we treat them with even our current drugs, we can achieve substantial benefit. It’s a no brainer. If we’ve got inexpensive, relatively safe and well-tolerated medicines that can decrease the risk of important fractures quite dramatically, then we should take advantage of that. Other fields do a better job of communicating the message and improving awareness,” McClung said.
According to the CDC, osteoporosis is the cause of approximately 300,000 annual hospital admissions for hip fractures, and by 2040, the CDC estimates that number will jump to 500,000 visits.
“When I started in this field we had no treatment. The first treatment that we had that was proven to reduce fracture risks became available in 1995, so it’s only been 17 years. We’ve had new treatments since then. They’re not better; we just have more options — all of which are good,” McClung said.
Although treatment strategies have improved, McClung said the challenge is translating the available services regarding osteoporosis management into regular clinical practices daily.
“The reasons for being on treatment need to be more clearly expressed. The magnitude of the benefit needs to be clearly communicated, and that needs to be put in proper perspective against the very rare risk. Everyone knows the risk of therapy, which is rare. But they don’t weigh that appropriately against the much more dramatic benefits,” McClung said.
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- Dr. McClung reports no relevant financial disclosures.