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Osteoporos Int. 2008 Apr;19(4):437-47. doi: 10.1007/s00198-007-0550-6. Epub 2008 Feb 22.

Cost-effective osteoporosis treatment thresholds: the United States perspective.

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Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Center in Musculoskeletal Diseases and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, NH 03756, USA.


A United States-specific cost-effectiveness analysis, which incorporated the cost and health consequences of clinical fractures of the hip, spine, forearm, shoulder, rib, pelvis and lower leg, was undertaken to identify the 10-year hip fracture probability required for osteoporosis treatment to be cost-effective for cohorts defined by age, sex, and race/ethnicity. A 3% 10-year risk of hip fracture was generally required for osteoporosis treatment to cost less than $60,000 per QALY gained.


Rapid growth of the elderly United States population will result in so many at risk of osteoporosis that economically efficient approaches to osteoporosis care warrant consideration.


A Markov-cohort model of annual United States age-specific incidence of clinical hip, spine, forearm, shoulder, rib, pelvis and lower leg fractures, costs (2005 US dollars), and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) was used to assess the cost-effectiveness of osteoporosis treatment ($600/yr drug cost for 5 years with 35% fracture reduction) by gender and race/ethnicity groups. To determine the 10-year hip fracture probability at which treatment became cost-effective, average annual age-specific probabilities for all fractures were multiplied by a relative risk (RR) that was systematically varied from 0 to 10 until a cost of $60,000 per QALY gained was observed for treatment relative to no intervention.


Osteoporosis treatment was cost-effective when the 10-year hip fracture probability reached approximately 3%. Although the RR at which treatment became cost-effective varied markedly between genders and by race/ethnicity, the absolute 10-year hip fracture probability at which intervention became cost-effective was similar across race/ethnicity groups, but tended to be slightly higher for men than for women.


Application of the WHO risk prediction algorithm to identify individuals with a 3% 10-year hip fracture probability may facilitate efficient osteoporosis treatment.

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