Original Article

Osteoporosis International

, Volume 18, Issue 11, pp 1481-1491

First online:

Simulation-based cost-utility analysis of population screening-based alendronate use in Switzerland

  • M. SchwenkglenksAffiliated withEuropean Center of Pharmaceutical Medicine, University of Basel Email author 
  • , K. LippunerAffiliated withOsteoporosis Policlinic, University Hospital Bern

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A simulation model adopting a health system perspective showed population-based screening with DXA, followed by alendronate treatment of persons with osteoporosis, or with anamnestic fracture and osteopenia, to be cost-effective in Swiss postmenopausal women from age 70, but not in men.


We assessed the cost-effectiveness of a population-based screen-and-treat strategy for osteoporosis (DXA followed by alendronate treatment if osteoporotic, or osteopenic in the presence of fracture), compared to no intervention, from the perspective of the Swiss health care system.


A published Markov model assessed by first-order Monte Carlo simulation was refined to reflect the diagnostic process and treatment effects. Women and men entered the model at age 50. Main screening ages were 65, 75, and 85 years. Age at bone densitometry was flexible for persons fracturing before the main screening age. Realistic assumptions were made with respect to persistence with intended 5 years of alendronate treatment. The main outcome was cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained.


In women, costs per QALY were Swiss francs (CHF) 71,000, CHF 35,000, and CHF 28,000 for the main screening ages of 65, 75, and 85 years. The threshold of CHF 50,000 per QALY was reached between main screening ages 65 and 75 years. Population-based screening was not cost-effective in men.


Population-based DXA screening, followed by alendronate treatment in the presence of osteoporosis, or of fracture and osteopenia, is a cost-effective option in Swiss postmenopausal women after age 70.


Alendronate Bone densitometry Cost-utility analysis Modelling studies Osteoporosis Switzerland