NICE rules on osteoporosis treatments
As with a great many conditions, the osteoporosis treatments made available to the general public through the NHS are regulated by the Nations Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), a government body which decides which drugs the government will and will not pay for.
With 3 million people requiring osteoporosis treatment, NICE’s decisions regarding drug treatment obviously have vast financial implications and have inevitably run into controversy in recent years.
In 2007, NICE came under fire from many doctors when it only approved one first line osteoporosis treatment – alendronate. This drug is unsuitable for one in four women and has serious side effects.
More recently, in December 2009, NICE was criticised by Juliet Compston, Professor of Bone Medicine at Cambridge University, as having a restrictive and outdated approach to osteoporosis treatment. She pointed out that women under 75 have to wait until they have a lower bone density than their over 75 counterparts, before they are allowed access to alendronate, while access to alternative drugs is even more stringently controlled.
Remarkably, there are no NICE constraints for osteoporosis treatment in men! Therapeutic decisions and the option to buy the expensive treatments required are left in the hands of GPs. Their tight budgets may not allow them to treat every patient, but at least there is the choice.
Clearly osteoporosis treatment is one area in which private medical care is not only faster and more convenient, but can also offer a wider range of treatments than you would find available on the NHS.
Preventive osteoporosis treatment
The fight against osteoporosis cannot begin soon enough in your life. Regular exercise and careful attention to diet can go a long way towards maintaining healthy, strong bones that repair themselves properly. Smoking has also been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis, giving you yet another good reason to quit.
Weight bearing exercises, such as running, dancing and aerobics, and resistance exercises, such as those found in a typical gym, are ideal for strengthening the entire musculo-skeletal system. Regular exercise of around 30 minutes, three or four times a week will put you in the best possible position to fight the bone changes that lead to osteoporosis.