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Objective. To assess the cost-effectiveness of bone density screening programmes for osteoporosis. Study design. Using published and locally available data regarding fracture rates and treatment costs, the overall costs per fracture prevented, cost per quality of life year (QALY) saved and cost per year of life gained were estimated for different bone density screening and osteoporosis treatment programmes. Main outcome measures. Cost per fracture prevented, cost per QALY saved, and cost per year of life gained. Results. In women over the age of 50 years, the costs per fracture prevented of treating all women with hormone replacement therapy, or treating only if osteoporosis is demonstrated on bone density screening were £32,594 or £23,867 respectively. For alendronate therapy for the same groups, the costs were £171,067 and £14,067 respectively. Once the background rate of treatment with alendronate reaches 18%, bone density screening becomes cost-saving. Costs estimates per QALY saved ranged from £1,514 to £39,076 for osteoporosis treatment with alendronate following bone density screening. Conclusions. For relatively expensive medications such as alendronate, treatment programmes with prior bone density screening are far more cost effective than those without, and in some circumstances become cost-saving. Costs per QALY of life saved and per year of life gained for osteoporosis treatment with prior bone density screening compare favourably with treatment of hypertension and hypercholesterolemia.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of the British Menopause Society

Publication Date





130 - 135