Osteoporosis International

, Volume 12, Issue 8, pp 654–660

The Effect of Alendronate on Fracture-Related Healthcare Utilization and Costs: The Fracture Intervention Trial


  • E. A. Chrischilles
    • Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
  • E. J. Dasbach
    • Merck Research Laboratories, Blue Bell, Philadelphia
  • L. M. Rubenstein
    • Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa;
  • J. R. Cook
    • Merck Research Laboratories, Blue Bell, Philadelphia
  • H. K. Tabor
    • University of California, San Francisco, California
  • D. M. Black
    • University of California, San Francisco, California
  • for the Fracture Intervention Trial Research Group
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s001980170065

Cite this article as:
Chrischilles, E., Dasbach, E., Rubenstein, L. et al. Osteoporos Int (2001) 12: 654. doi:10.1007/s001980170065


The Vertebral Fracture Arm (VFA) of the Fracture Intervention Trial (FIT) study demonstrated that alendronate reduced the incidence of spine, forearm and hip fractures in women with low bone mass and existing vertebral fractures by about 50%. The objective of the present study was to determine the effects of alendronate therapy versus placebo on fracture-related healthcare utilization and costs. Participants were randomly assigned to double-masked treatment with alendronate (5 mg/day for 2 years and then 10 mg/day for 1 year) or placebo for 3 years. For each patient experiencing a clinical fracture, we determined whether treatment in an emergency room, hospital, nursing home and/or rehabilitation hospital was a consequence of the fracture. The VFA of the FIT Study enrolled 2027 women aged 55–81 years with low bone mass and pre-existing vertebral fractures from population-based listings in 11 metropolitan areas of the United States. We measured (1) the proportion of patients who had any fracture-related healthcare event and (2) the estimated cost of fracture-related healthcare services. Alendronate significantly reduced the proportion of patients utilizing fracture-related healthcare (emergency room, hospital, rehabilitation hospital or nursing home) by 25% (p= 0.038). Alendronate significantly reduced the costs associated with hip-fracture-related care by 58%, or $181 per patient randomized (p= 0.036). The reduction in fracture-related total costs was 35% ($190 per patient randomized) in the alendronate group relative to the placebo group (p= 0.114). Alendronate thus not only reduces the incidence of clinical fractures and associated morbidity, but reduces the proportion of patients utilizing the associated healthcare resources.

Key words: Alendronate – Cost – Healthcare utilization – Osteoporosis

Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2001