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Bisphosphonates being prescribed off licence

Some GPs are prescribing bisphosphonates outside of the recommended terms of the licence, a UK prescribing study shows.

Researchers assessed the indications given when GPs prescribed ibandronic acid 150mg monthly.

They collected data from dispensed prescriptions for more than 11,000 patients issued by GPs between November 2005 and November 2007 and sent questionnaires to GPs at least six months after the drug was first prescribed, to collect outcome data on adverse events.

Primary indications other than postmenopausal osteoporosis were reported for 11.7% of patients. The indications given included 715 prescriptions for prophylaxis, 231 for osteopenia, and 41 for spontaneous fracture.

Where dose was specified, 99.9% of patients (8625/8637) were prescribed the approved dose of 150 mg per month.

Dr Anna Gilchrist, a research fellow at the Drug Safety Research Unit at the University of Southampton, concluded: ‘This study has highlighted that some clinicians are prescribing this product outside the recommended terms of the licence. Prescribing for indications other than osteoporosis was common, but unusual dose regimens were uncommon.'

Menopause Int 2011: 17:112-3

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