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24-03-2011 | Bone health | Article

Economic burden of fragility fractures ‘substantial’ in Europe



MedWire News: Researchers estimate that the economic burden of fragility fractures in six major European countries totaled €31.0 billion (US$43.9 billion) in 2010, with the highest costs incurred by Germany.

The findings, presented this week at the European Congress on Osteoporosis & Osteoarthritis in Valencia, Spain revealed that the majority (€20.2 billion; US$28.6 billion) of the economic burden was attributed to the costs incurred during the first year after the fracture. In contrast, pharmacological prevention and treatment management constituted only a marginal share (€1.5 billion; US$2.1 billion) of the total economic cost.

The remaining €9.3 billion (US$13.2 billion) was spent on patients with prevalent historic fractures at the time of the study, note the study authors.

Oskar Ström (Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden) and colleagues constructed a population-based model to estimate the economic burden of fragility fractures in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the UK, in 2010.

They found that Germany had the highest economic burden at €9.4 billion (US$13.3 billion), followed by Italy at €6.7 billion (US$9.5 billion), and the UK at €5.8 billion (US$8.2 billion). The lowest amount (€1.5 billion; US$2.1 billion) was spent by Sweden.

Hip fractures comprised 56% of the overall costs, vertebral fractures 5%, wrist fractures 2% and a combined group of "other" fractures represented 37% of the total.

International Osteoporosis Federation President, and study co-author, John Kanis (University of Sheffield, UK) said: "Fragility fractures due to osteoporosis cause pain and disability, often having a severe impact on the quality of life of millions of Europeans."

"This important study reveals the enormous economic cost of fragility fractures."

"Prevention of fractures through early risk assessment and identification of those in need of treatment is the key to reducing the costs to national health care systems throughout Europe," he concluded.

The study findings are published in the journal Osteoporosis International.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Laura Dean

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