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GPs join demo against osteoporosis guidance

GPs and patients demonstrating their concerns about the proposed NICE Guidance on osteoporosis by have submitted a 20,000 signature petition to Downing Street.

NICE proposals recommend the drug alendronate as the only first line treatment for osteoporosis even though it is unsuitable for 1 in 4 women as it leads to debilitating side effects including dyspepsia and swelling of the joints.

The proposals mean that GPs will be subject to the discretion of their PCT as to whether they can prescribe other treatments for osteoporosis.

However, as Pulse revealed in September, alternative drugs for osteoporosis such as risendronate have been targets for ‘drug switching' initiatives to cut costs. An ICM poll found that 67% of GPs admitted to changing treatments selected by consultants for their patients because of PCT restrictions.

Dr Alun Cooper, a GP in Crawley, West Sussex, who has a special interest in osteoporosis, described the NICE proposals as ‘disgraceful'.

He confirmed the dilemma that GPs were facing, saying: ‘Generic alendronate is considerably less expensive and so of course there is going to a lot of pressure on GPs to prescribe it. The problem is that a patient who takes the drug and suffers from a side effect like dyspepsia will not come back.'

Dr Caje Moniz, Consultant in Laboratory Medicine at King's College London, said: ‘The guidelines will cost the NHS money in the long-run because of the increase of broken bones in those denied appropriate treatment. The draft NICE Guidance gives local authorities a license to do this, which is totally wrong.'

A 20,000 person petition was handing to Downing Street A 20,000 person petition was handing to Downing Street

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