rocter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals has launched a new campaign in the UK calling on pharmacists to play a more involved role in monitoring osteoporosis treatment to ensure it is being taken correctly and adhered to.

Under the banner Breaking the Silence, pharmacists are being urged to support the new campaign which is designed to improve osteoporosis treatment compliance and raise awareness of upper gastrointestinal effects in order to help improve overall outcomes.

According to the company, the campaign has been set up in response to findings that show less than a third of GPs identify factors that could lead to upper GI side effects - such as prolonged use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or previous treatment with proton pump inhibitors - and just 46% routinely assess for other medications being taken at the same time, such as anticoagulants, aspirin and corticosteroids, before starting a patient on osteoporosis therapy.

Consequently, pharmacists are being asked to carry out routine checks to assess whether osteoporosis patients are or are in danger of experiencing GI side effects and monitor patients in case such adverse events compromise treatment compliance. In addition, pharmacists should check whether patients understand the dosing instructions to ensure treatments are being taken correctly.

“We need to get better at identifying when patients discontinue treatment and ensure they are offered alternative drugs to maintain fracture reduction,” commented Omar Ali, Formulary Development Pharmacist at Surrey & Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. “A patient’s age and concomitant medication (e.g. NSAID or corticosteroids) are both risk factors for upper GI problems [and] therefore an assessment of GI risk in this vulnerable patient population is vital before choosing an osteoporosis treatment,” he stressed.

Improving treatment compliance and thereby outcomes for osteoporosis is essential – figures released last year showed that 70,000 osteoporotic hip fractures alone are still occurring in England and Wales each year, costing the UK a hefty £725 million a year.