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NICE digs in heels over osteoporosis guidance

By Richard Staines

NICE has announced that its guidance on the prevention of osteoporotic fractures will remain unchanged despite losing a legal challenge last year.

The legal challenge - brought by the National Osteoporosis Society and the pharmaceutical company Servier last year - forced NICE to hold a consultation in its economic model that formed the basis of its appraisals of osteoporosis drugs.

Despite harsh criticism of the appraisals as 'unethical' and overly restrictive, NICE has now decided its guidance first published in October 2008 will remain unchanged, but will also hold a review of the guidance as planned in July this year.

NICE clinical and public health director, Peter Littlejohns, said: ‘The manufacturer of one of the treatments was initially unhappy with our guidance, but they have not lodged any further appeals.

‘The guidance on preventing osteoporotic fractures continues to offer help to postmenopausal women and advice to the medical staff treating them.'

But Claire Severgnini, Chief Executive of the National Osteoporosis Society condemned NICE's decision. 'This final set of guidance is inflexible and unethical and leaves clinicians with unnecessarily limited options to treat a condition that leads to 300,000 fragility fractures a year.

‘There are a wide range of cost-effective osteoporosis treatments. Every patient is different and needs to be treated with the therapy that best meets their needs,' she said.

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