Marketing Osteoporosis: How a Risk Factor Becomes a Disease—and Health Care Costs Continue to Rise

Photo by kyz / Stuart Caie via Flickr.

“In the name of prevention, millions of Americans have accepted the idea that it’s reasonable to treat a risk factor such as bone loss or high cholesterol as if it were a disease,” writes Maryann Napoli, associate director of the Center for Medical Consumers, in her April AJN article, “Marketing Osteoporosis.”

Napoli gives a disturbing overview of the drug companies’ lengthy campaign to market powerful drugs such as alendronate (Fosamax) for the treatment and prevention of low bone density in women. “Getting symptom-free women to accept drug therapy requires scary statistics that imply the danger period starts right after menopause–leaving the impression that hip fractures, the most disabling consequence of osteoporosis, occur soon after the hot flashes are over.”

The story Napoli tells couldn’t be more relevant, as health care reformers seek to cut costs in the health care system. Cautions Napoli: “More people should question the wisdom of starting long-term drug therapy. Often the magnitude of the risk factor has been overestimated, or the danger of the disease itself exaggerated, by people trying to sell you something-like a drug you must take for the rest of your life.”

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2016-11-21T13:36:27+00:00 April 3rd, 2009|health care policy, nursing research|0 Comments

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Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.

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