SDI Reports: Roughly Half of Patients Prescribed the Most Popular Osteoporosis Drugs Discontinue Therapy Within 6 Months -- Amgen’s Prolia Offers New Dosing Option

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According to SDI, about half of patients beginning therapy on popular osteoporosis drugs discontinue their treatment within 6 months. Amgen’s Prolia is the newest product to enter the market. Prolia differs from existing therapies as it is given every 6 months via injection.

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There are financial ramifications as well. Using drug therapy to treat osteoporosis is less expensive than treating a patient with a broken bone because they didn’t adhere to therapy.

According to a recent analysis by SDI, a leading healthcare market insight and analytics firm, about half of patients beginning therapy on popular osteoporosis drugs discontinue their treatment within 6 months. Amgen’s Prolia, which was recently approved for postmenopausal women with osteoporosis at high risk of fracture, or patients who could not tolerate other osteoporosis therapies, is the newest product to enter the market. Prolia differs from existing therapies as it is given every 6 months via injection.

Currently, alendronate, sometimes filled as Fosamax but more frequently as the generic equivalent, is the most popular treatment for osteoporosis. In the 12 months ending April 2010, alendronate accounted for almost 24% of drug issuances for the condition.

Generic alendronate is most often dispensed as a once-weekly therapy. SDI found that 49% of new alendronate patients had discontinued the drug 6 months later. Another 3% had switched to another therapy. After 12 months, 61% of new alendronate patients had discontinued therapy.    

The weekly form of Actonel had similar discontinuation rates. Fifty-four percent of patients taking Actonel once a week had discontinued therapy 6 months after starting; 64% had discontinued after 12 months.

The once-a-month version of Actonel fared slightly better after 6 months with only 47% of patients having discontinued therapy. But at 12 months, 63% had discontinued. The oral form of Boniva, also used once a month, had an even higher percentage of patients discontinuing therapy – 57% after 6 months and 70% after 12.

“Drug adherence is an issue that many in the healthcare industry struggle with, including physicians, pharmacies, and payers. If patients choose to discontinue therapy, they may be at a greater risk for progression of their disease or condition,” said SDI Chief Medical Officer Gregory Hess, M.D., M.B.A.. “There are financial ramifications as well. Using drug therapy to treat osteoporosis is less expensive than treating a patient with a broken bone because they didn’t adhere to therapy.”

About SDI:
SDI is a leading healthcare market insight and analytics firm. It provides the industry’s most comprehensive de-identified patient-level data to pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies, enabling them to better understand the healthcare market. SDI also serves the government and the financial services, media, and consumer packaged goods industries. Founded in 1982, SDI counts the world’s top 50 pharmaceutical and biotech firms as its clients.

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Scott Evans
SDI
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