Who Will Pay for Your Fracture?

Most of my patients initially refuse when told that they need to start medication for osteoporosis. Why such an overwhelming negative response? The ads soliciting supposed victims of anti-osteoporosis drugs such as Fosamax, have been so wide spread and convincing that the general population is now convinced that the treatment is worse than the disease.

The high level of fear among woman regarding treatment of osteoporosis worries my colleagues and I. Although it is likely that after many years taking drugs such as Fosamax can cause bones to become brittle, the type of fracture they may contribute to is less than one percent of all fractures related to osteoporosis. Some experts believe that for about every 300 osteoporotic fractures there may be one fracture related to treatment.

How dangerous are fractures related to osteoporosis? The rate of people dying within a year after suffering a hip fracture is almost double and the risk seems to be higher the younger you are when the fracture occurs.

The question in my mind then is, who will compensate woman who fracture due to osteoporosis after being frightened away from treatment by lawsuit ads? When pharmaceutical companies promote a drug treatment they must provide “fair balance” resulting in promotional drug ads which devote most of their time to the negative aspects of the drug. Not so with the “have you been injured by Fosamax?” ads. The scarier the ads the more effective they are, which serves their purpose very well.

I propose that a fund be set up by those broadcasting, “have you been injured” ads to compensate people who have been injured because of their scare tactics. My thought is that many people are hurt by these ads because of their unbalanced and purposefully frightening message. Why shouldn’t there be a way to provide the resources needed to help the victims of such propaganda?

Am I off here, or do you think I’m right?

Gary Pepper, M.D.
Editor-in-Chief, Metabolism.com

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