Review Article

Applied Health Economics and Health Policy

, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 403-417

First online:

A review of the cost effectiveness of bisphosphonates in the treatment of post-menopausal osteoporosis in Switzerland

  • Kurt LippunerAffiliated withClinic for Osteoporosis, Inselspital, Bern University Hospital
  • , Richard F. PollockAffiliated withOssian Health Economics and Communications
  • , Jayne Smith-PalmerAffiliated withOssian Health Economics and Communications
  • , Thomas MeuryAffiliated withRoche Pharma (Schweiz)
  • , William J. ValentineAffiliated withOssian Health Economics and Communications Email author 

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The economic burden associated with osteoporosis is considerable. As such, cost-effectiveness analyses are important contributors to the diagnostic and therapeutic decision-making process. The aim of this study was to review the cost effectiveness of treating post-menopausal osteoporosis with bisphosphonates and identify the key factors that influence the cost effectiveness of such treatment in the Swiss setting.

A systematic search of databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library) was conducted to identify published literature on the cost effectiveness of bisphosphonates in post-menopausal osteoporosis in the Swiss setting. Outcomes were compared with similar studies in Western European countries.

Three cost-effectiveness studies of bisphosphonates in this patient population were identified; all were from a healthcare payer perspective. Outcomes showed that, relative to no treatment, treatment with oral bisphosphonates was predicted to be cost saving for most women aged ≥70 years with osteoporosis or at least one risk factor for fracture, and cost effective for women aged ≥75 years without prior fracture when used as a component of a population-based screen-and-treat programme. Results were most sensitive to changes in fracture risk, cost of fractures, cost of treatment, nursing home admissions and adherence with treatment. Swiss results were generally comparable to those in other European settings. Assuming similar clinical efficacy, lowering treatment cost (through the use of price-reduced brand-name or generic drugs) and/or improving adherence should both contribute to further improving the cost effectiveness of bisphosphonates in women with post-menopausal osteoporosis.

Published evidence indicates that bisphosphonates are estimated to be similarly cost effective or cost saving in most treatment scenarios of post-menopausal osteoporosis in Switzerland and in neighbouring European countries.