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New medication guidelines for Osteoporosis patients


From left to right, Joanne McDermott, Pharmacy Adviser HSCB, David Armstrong, Clinical Lead, Fracture Liaison and Osteoporosis Service WHSCT, Edel Rogan, Development Manager NI, National Osteoporosis Society.

The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) has produced a leaflet which provides information about the long term use of Bisphosphonate medication for treating osteoporosis.

The “Bisphosphonate drug holiday in treatment for osteoporosis” outlines how bisphosphate medicines are used and when patients can stop the drugs, or have a holiday from them.

According to Dr David Armstrong, Specialist in Osteoporosis, Western Health and Social Care Trust, Osteoporosis is a condition of fragile bones, which makes them more likely to break.   It is common in older people, but is also seen in some younger patients or in those taking medication like steroids.

He said, “Bisphosphonate drugs can be very useful at helping improve bone strength and reduce the risk of fracture, but many patients don’t need to take them continuously for more than 5 years. We’re recommending a medicine review by GPs after 5 years of treatment, to see if patients are suitable for a ‘holiday’ from the tablets. ”

Alison Doyle, Head of Clinical Practice at the National Osteoporosis Society said, “We welcome this initiative from the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) to raise awareness of osteoporosis and how to get the treatment at the right time for patients with this condition. Decisions on when to start bisphosphonates, and when they can be safely stopped, can be difficult in some cases, and this initiative provides excellent guidance and support.”

Anyone with any questions about bisphosphonates or other osteoporosis drug treatments can call the National Osteoporosis Society’s free Helpline on 0808 800 0035 or visit www.nos.org.uk.

The National Osteoporosis Society will shortly be issuing its own guidance and key messages to GPs and other health professionals across the UK about this important topic

It’s estimated that almost 3 million people in the UK have osteoporosis and more than 13,000 fractures in Northern Ireland are due to the disease annually.

Patients or their relatives who would like more information can get leaflets which have been produced by the National Osteoporosis Society in both GP practices and community pharmacies.  The leaflets are also available to download online http://niformulary.hscni.net/PatientZone/OP/Pages/default.aspx