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NICE forced to reconsider osteoporosis guidance

By Nigel Praities

NICE has been forced to re-consider its controversial decision on treatments for osteoporosis, after it was found by its own appeal committee to have ‘behaved unfairly'.

The institute came under pressure over its recommendation of alendronate as the only first line treatment for postmenopausal osteoporosis in June. The decision caused a storm of protest as alendronate is unsuitable in one in four women and can lead to debilitating side-effects, including dyspepsia and swelling of the joints.

GPs and patients submitted a 20,000 signature petition about the NICE guidance to Downing Street in October.

But NICE announced yesterday that it will look again at its guidance, after it was overturned by its appeal committee . The committee said it had been ‘in breach of its procedures', after it changed the scope of the guidance late in the appraisal process, excluding women who could tolerate or were unable to take alendronate.

Dr Peter Stott, a GP in Tadworth, Surrey, and a former member of the National Osteoporosis Society Scientific Committee, welcomed the decision as it could help improve the choice of treatments GPs were able to offer for osteoporosis.

‘If patients can't tolerate a bisphosponate, then you need something that they can tolerate, because osteoporosis is something that really needs effective treatment,' he said.

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