NHS medics call for osteoporosis drug to be recommended in England and Wales

·2-min read

More than 100 experts have called for the first new osteoporosis drug in decades to be recommended for use in England and Wales.

In a joint letter published in the Sunday Times, NHS clinicians called on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) to repeal its decision not to recommend Romosozumab for people suffering with a severe form of the disease.

Romosozumab has already been approved for use in Scotland, Northern Ireland and much of Europe.

The drug induces new bone formation and reduces the risk of fracture in patients suffering with osteoporosis, which disproportionately affects women.

In the letter, the clinicians highlight how the disease is “one of the biggest threats to living well in later life”.

They wrote: “Half of women over the age of 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis, causing long-term pain and disability.

“As clinicians working in this field, we know this is one of the biggest threats to living well in later life.

“Yet the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has declined to recommend the first new osteoporosis medication in more than a decade.”

The Royal Osteoporosis Society has signed the letter and urged the health body to recognise that as many people die of fracture-related causes as from lung cancer and diabetes.

Craig Jones, chief executive of the group, said he believed Nice’s decision was based on “technical misunderstandings” and would leave people in England and Wales “at the mercy of fractures”.

“We’re calling on Nice and the applicant company to get back round the table and work with us to ensure equal access to this important new treatment,” he said.

“Osteoporosis clinicians fear that technical misunderstandings are leading to an unfair scenario where Scottish and Northern Irish patients have access to this life-changing medication, while people in England and Wales are left at the mercy of fractures.

“We hope both parties will work with us to find a way forward in the public interest.”

The provisional decision from Nice is under consultation, pending a hearing scheduled for early in 2022.

Nice does not licence new drugs but provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care.

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