Osteoporosis-Related Bone Breaks an Epidemic

[title]

The National Bone Health Alliance (NBHA), a public-private partnership with 42 member organizations, is urging a simple solution to a big problem: if it’s 50+ fracture, request a test. This is the call-to-action for the NBHA’s new public and healthcare professional education campaign – 2Million2Many (2Million2Many.org).

The campaign reflects the two million bone breaks that occur in the US each year that are caused by osteoporosis and urges the public and healthcare professionals alike to take action and request a test for osteoporosis when someone age 50 or older breaks a bone. Despite the fact that 50 percent of osteoporosis-related repeat fractures can be prevented with existing treatments, only two in 10 initial bone breaks get a follow-up test or treatment for osteoporosis.

Designed to bring the under-diagnosed and under-treated condition out of hiding, the 2Million2Many campaign officially launched today during an Osteoporosis Summit, held in Washington, DC, bringing together the nation’s leading experts on bone and women’s health, health economics, policy and patient advocacy to discuss the impact of osteoporosis, the importance of secondary fracture prevention and highlight the need for robust policies to address this health imperative.

“The sad reality is that the vast majority of patients over age 50 presenting with their first bone break are not tested for osteoporosis, placing them at the highest risk to suffer another bone break which could cause severe debilitation or even death,” said Robert Lindsay, MD, PhD, chief of Internal Medicine, Helen Hayes Hospital, professor of clinical medicine, Columbia University and chair, NBHA 2Million2Many Project Team. “If we do not make major strides to intervene and tackle this problem, it will only get worse. The number of annual fractures is expected to swell to around three million and cost the healthcare system $25 billion per year by 2025; hence NBHA’s ‘20/20’ vision to reduce the incidence of bone breaks 20 percent by 2020.”

One in two women over age 50 will suffer a bone break caused by osteoporosis in their lifetime, as will up to one in four men. In fact, the number of bone breaks per year caused by osteoporosis exceeds the incidence of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined. To illustrate the magnitude of the problem, the NBHA has built “Cast Mountain” to serve as the symbolic centerpiece of the 2Million2Many campaign. The 12-foot tall installation is made up of 5,500 casts, representing the number of bone breaks that occur in just one day due to osteoporosis. As part of the campaign, this jarring display will be touring the country at various events.

NBHA is also tackling the issue directly with its Secondary Fracture Prevention Initiative, through which the organization is fostering a fracture liaison service (FLS) model of care to support osteoporosis screening, treatment and follow-up.NBHA along with two partners has applied for a grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Innovation Center to support a more substantial FLS effort in the Medicare population (which pays for 1.6 million of the 2 million fractures that occur annually). The FLS program is modeled after successful US and international programs that have been in place for as long as 12 years. If awarded the grant, the program, to be implemented nationwide within three years, could benefit 165,000 patients and save the healthcare system between $29 and $40 million (after grant costs).

“By studying examples of programs in the US and globally that coordinate the care of patients who break a bone due to osteoporosis, we have real evidence that Fracture Liaison Service programs are successful in reducing hip and other fractures. The problem is that these approaches are not being used nearly enough by most medical practices,” said Richard M. Dell, MD, lead orthopaedic surgeon, Healthy Bones Program, Kaiser Permanente and member of the NBHAGovernance Committee and Secondary Fracture Prevention Initiative Project Team. “It is unacceptable that even with all the tools we have at our fingertips, we aren’t properly taking care of fracture patients to prevent one of the most obvious and ominous health issues.”

In addition to adopting the campaign’s simple call-to-action,NBHA and its partners urge anyone affected by osteoporosis or a bone break to take a stand by signing on to the 2Million2Many virtual pledge posted online, and sharing it with others to do the same. The campaign website also includes patient and physician materials to spread the campaign messages and call-to-action and a public service announcement that drives home the urgency of preventing bone breaks due to osteoporosis. Only by spreading the word that 2 Million is 2 Many can we force osteoporosis out of hiding and keep more bones from breaking unnecessarily.