GPs will have to review any osteoporisis patients treated with strontium ranelate as the drug ceases to be available in the UK from August.
French pharmaceutical company Servier said it will cease production of Protelos – the only form of strontium ranelate available in the UK – due to decreasing numbers of prescriptions.
Following indications that the drug was linked to heigthened risk of cardiovascular events in 2014 it is only prescribed to patients who cannot use other approved treatments for the condition, and under careful monitoring.
The company said patients currently taking strontium ranelate ‘should contact their GP or hospital doctor to discuss their treatment options’.
Strontium ranelate is used to treat severe osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and adult men who are unable to tolerate bisphosphonates and other osteoporosis drugs.
Dr Alun Cooper, GPSI in osteoporosis in West Sussex, said the decision meant ‘a very small number’ of patients would need to be reviewed for alternative treatment.
He said: ’Oral bisphosphonates will not be an option for most patients as they will have tried these before starting strontium ranelate. So it will probably be an IV bisphosphonate or, more likely, denosumab, which then begs the question of who will give the injection.
’Some CCGs have commissioned GPs to provide the service but not all practices take this up and some patients fall by the wayside, hopefully being picked up by a fracture liaison service, but again, these are not universally available.’
Dr Louise Warburton, GPSI in musculoskeletal medicine for NHS Telford, added: ’We haven’t used much of it for a number of years and it was always prescribed or started in specialist care. There will be a few worried patients out there who are still on it, and I would advise GPs to refer them back to the specialist metabolic bone unit.’