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Physicians' perspectives on the treatment of osteoporosis patients with bisphosphonates

Authors Gu T, Eisenberg D, Stephenson J, Yu J

Received 3 October 2015

Accepted for publication 6 November 2015

Published 15 February 2016 Volume 2016:11 Pages 1—8


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Supriya Swarnkar

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

Tao Gu,1 Debra F Eisenberg Lawrence,1 Judith J Stephenson,1 Jingbo Yu2

1HealthCore, Wilmington, DE, 2Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA

Noncompliance with bisphosphonate therapy among osteoporosis patients attenuates the reduction of fracture risk. The objective of this study was to assess physicians’ prescribing considerations, preferences for osteoporosis treatments, and perceptions of patients’ compliance with oral bisphosphonates.
Methods: This was an online survey of US physicians identified in the HealthCore Integrated Research Database (HIRDSM) as prescribing oral bisphosphonates to women aged ≥55 years. The survey gauged physicians’ prescribing considerations and preferences for various types of osteoporosis medications. The physicians were asked to predict patient persistence and compliance, and rate various reasons for noncompliance.
Results: Bone mineral density, long-term medication use (eg, corticosteroids), and a history of fracture were ranked as major considerations by 94.9%, 88.6%, and 86.7% of participating physicians (N=158), respectively, when deciding whether to treat an osteoporosis patient. Most physicians expressed a preference for prescribing weekly or monthly oral bisphosphonates, for both newly diagnosed patients (54.4% and 34.2%, respectively) and long-term users of oral bisphosphonates (40.5% and 36.1%, respectively). Most physicians (23.4% always, 58.9% sometimes) incorporated a drug holiday into their prescribing patterns. Although most physicians predicted that more than half of the patients would comply with the prescribed medication for at least a year, 17.7% predicted that less than half of the patients would be compliant in the 1st year, and 29.7% predicted the same result for compliance beyond 1 year. In the opinion of the majority of physicians, the major reasons for noncompliance with oral bisphosphonates were intolerance of a medication due to a gastrointestinal condition (71.5%) and medication side effects (69.6%).
Conclusion: US physicians consider several relevant risk factors when deciding whether to prescribe pharmacotherapy and exhibit a preference for weekly or monthly regimens. The physicians estimated a substantial minority of the patients to be noncompliant with oral bisphosphonates, for reasons including primarily gastrointestinal intolerance and medication-related side effects.

Keywords: osteoporosis, bisphosphonates, physician’s practice patterns, cross-sectional studies, patient compliance

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