Ettinger B, Chidambaran P, Pressman A., Am J Manag Care. 7(6):597-605., 2001 Jun 01
OBJECTIVE: To investigate use of osteoporosis drugs among patients with high exposure to glucocorticoid drugs.STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective review of pharmacy records.
METHODS: We identified patients aged > or = 20 years who received prescriptions for > or = 2 g of prednisone (or equivalent) during any 12-month period between January 1, 1998, and December 31, 1999, and who initiated use of osteoporosis-specific drugs (alendronate sodium, etidronate disodium, and calcitonin) during that period.
RESULTS: Among 8807 patients who met study criteria, 772 (8.8%) received prescriptions for osteoporosis drugs. Prevalence of osteoporosis drug prescriptions increased linearly during the study and differed markedly by patient sex, age, and exposure to glucocorticoid drugs. Osteoporosis drugs were prescribed for 16.3% of women aged > or = 65 years, for 6.1% of women aged < 50 years, for 6.5% of men aged > or = 65 years, and for 2.2% of men aged < 50 years. Higher glucocorticoid exposure was also associated with higher rate of osteoporosis drug prescription (11.2% of patients exposed to > 4 g/y and 5.6% exposed to 2 to 3 g/y received such therapies). Osteoporosis drugs were 50% more likely to be prescribed by clinicians who prescribed glucocorticoid drugs to > 18 patients than by providers who prescribed glucocorticoid drugs to < 4 patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite ready availability of bone-specific osteoporosis drugs, few patients with high exposure to glucocorticoid drugs received such therapy. Likelihood of an osteoporosis drug being prescribed for such patients strongly depends on patient sex, age, and exposure to glucocorticoid drugs and on level of practitioner experience in prescribing glucocorticoid drugs.