Actonel, Procter & Gamble and Sanofi-Aventis’ bisphosphonate drug, reduces the risk of hip fracture by 46% in women aged 70-100 with established osteoporosis, according to a clinical study presented late last week at the Sixth European Congress on Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis (ECCEO) in Vienna.

The data are based on an analysis of the benefits of treatment with Actonel (risedronate) in high-risk patients included in the HIP study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2001.

This analysis will certainly be deployed by P&G/Sanofi Aventis in the company’s ongoing battle with Roche/GlaxoSmithKline to highlight Actonel’s proven ability to protect against fracture beyond the spine.

Hip fractures most commonly occur in older people and are the most serious and debilitating type of osteoporosis-related fracture because they are painful, result in loss of independence and increase the risk of death. These fractures are also expensive for healthcare systems: according to the World Health Organisation, hip fractures account for nearly 90% of the acute hospital costs of osteoporosis-related fractures in Europe.

P&G/Sanofi Aventis will also point to patient-preference data presented at ECCEO, which demonstrated that, when considering a treatment for osteoporosis, most postmenopausal women think that efficacy is more important than the dosing regimen. According to lead investigator Dr Richard Keen, Stanmore, UK, the study is one of the first to look at the whole range of factors that influence the likelihood that a patient will continue with treatment.

Patient preference is undoubtedly important in influencing long-term adherence to treatment, which is essential in a chronic disorder like osteoporosis. Most studies, including other evidence reported at ECCEO, have focussed on patients’ preference for longer versus shorter dosing intervals.

However, a recent report from the International Osteoporosis Foundation confirmed that the knowledge that they are doing something to help themselves is the main motivation for postmenopausal women to stay on their osteoporosis treatment.

From Sue Lyon at ECCEO in Vienna