New report finds that in Europe, up to 85% of women who suffer a broken bone due to osteoporosis do not receive treatment to protect against further disabling and potentially life-altering fractures.

Paris, April 5, 2019 (embargoed 6:00 CET)

A recent International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) report outlining the burden of osteoporosis in six European countries, reveals that osteoporosis is massively undertreated, at great human and health economic cost. 

The ‘Broken bones, broken lives: A roadmap to solve the fragility fracture crisis in Europe’ report shows that in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK, approximately 60 to 85% of women aged fifty or over who suffer a fragility fracture are not treated for the underlying condition, osteoporosis. 

A fragility fracture is a broken bone that typically results following a minor event, such as a fall from standing height. Normally this would not result in a fracture, but in people with osteoporosis, bones are weak and fracture easily. The report finds that approximately 2.7 million fragility fractures occurred in the six European countries in 2017, with the number of fractures expected to increase by 23% by 2030.

Once a person has had a broken bone, they are five times more likely to experience a second fracture within the next two years. Without treatment to strengthen their bones, they are vulnerable to a cycle of more fractures, pain and costly disability. Among the most serious fractures are hip fractures, which invariably result in disability, often with long-term impact on quality of life and independence. One year after a hip fracture, 40% of patients are still unable to walk independently, and 80% are restricted in other daily activities, such as driving and grocery shopping. 

In Europe, fragility fractures are the fourth leading cause of chronic disease morbidity, surpassed only by ischemic heart disease, dementia and lung cancer. Costs associated with fragility fractures are enormous and estimated at approximately € 37.5 billion per year in 2017 in just the six countries. Given the ageing of the population, costs are projected to rise by as much as 27% by 2030.  

Professor Cyrus Cooper, IOF President, stated: “It is unacceptable that the men and women in Europe who are at high risk of breaking a bone due to osteoporosis still remain undiagnosed and untreated. This neglect comes at a huge cost. Patients face the burden of disability, lost quality of life and dependence on caregivers, while health authorities bear massive health economic costs. IOF strongly urges all health authorities to take urgent measures to implement proven solutions to address the fragility fracture crisis.”

The IOF report identifies post-fracture coordinated care models such as Fracture Liaison Services as a proven and cost-effective way to reduce further fractures and thereby decrease the burden on individuals and health care providers. According to IOF, such policy solutions, adapted to the specifics of a country’s health care system, must be considered across Europe.

Currently, leading bone health experts and representatives of osteoporosis societies from Europe and around the world are attending the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases in Paris, held from April 4-7, 2018. At the Congress IOF will hold a special session which will explore the findings of this important new report and discuss ways in which national patient societies can advocate to make osteoporosis a healthcare priority in their countries.
Broken bones, broken lives - A roadmap to solve the fragility fracture crisis in Europe’ is available on the IOF website along with specific country-editions for France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK, in English and respective national languages.


About IOF: The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) is the world's largest nongovernmental organization dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis and related musculoskeletal diseases. IOF members, including leading scientific experts and 244 patient, medical and research societies in 99 locations worldwide, work together to make bone health a global health care priority.