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Osteoporosis – addressing the ‘silent epidemic’

Scott Fleming, Global Communications & Company Reputation
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Scott Fleming, Global Communications & Company Reputation

Experts consider osteoporosis to be a silent epidemic which is neglected and under addressed, according to new survey.

At UCB, we are committed to improving the lives of people with serious conditions. In addition to engaging with patients, we frequently work with health professionals to understand their perspective on how diseases are managed and what more could be done to deliver for patients.

In August, we launched a survey of European healthcare professionals specialising in bone medicine. Our goal was to investigate attitudes and perceived prioritisation of osteoporosis and fragility fractures in eleven countries: Germany, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. A total of 401 specialist healthcare professionals were interviewed online in August and September.

Most (82%) specialists said they believe osteoporosis is a ‘silent epidemic’, yet only 24% said their healthcare system is adequately prepared to support people living with the condition. Two thirds (66%) agreed that osteoporosis is a ‘neglected condition’ and just 10% think it is currently prioritised by their local health authorities. This is despite osteoporosis affecting 200 million people worldwide and resulting in a fracture every three seconds.

With osteoporosis rates set to rise as populations age, most specialists (90%) believe osteoporosis should be a public health priority, and 91% agreed that effective management can improve outcomes and reduce costs.

The majority (84%) of specialists also agreed that increased awareness and understanding of osteoporosis is needed for general practitioners (GPs), and only 32% believe that GPs refer suspected osteoporosis diagnoses in a timely manner.

Patient understanding of osteoporosis may also be lacking. More than half (53%) of specialists responding to the survey believe their patients view the condition as a short-term concern – despite clear evidence of its long-term impact on quality of life and independence.

These findings are of serious concern. Fragility factures can significantly impact people’s lives, yet policy makers, physicians and even patients may not appreciate the true burden of this disease.

UCB will continue to work with all partners to improve the effective management of osteoporosis and, ultimately, reduce the pain and suffering it causes. Together, we can break the silence.

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