Osteoporosis costing all Australians: a new burden of disease analysis – 2012 to 2022

4 Dec 2013

This report finds that little progress is being made in preventing and managing osteoporosis in Australia.

Executive Summary

This report updates previous burden of disease analysis undertaken in 2001 and 2007, and shows little progress is being made in preventing and managing osteoporosis in Australia. With an ageing population, it is now critical that real steps are taken to address this silent and often underdiagnosed disease affecting women and men that is costing governments, the community and comes at a great personal cost to the individuals affected.

The new information in this report on the current and future costs of osteoporosis in Australia will aid government policy makers, funding bodies, clinicians, researchers and health care organisations in assessing the importance of reducing osteoporosis and osteoporosis – related fractures, promoting bone health and in identifying future resource needs.

Key Findings

Poor bone health: 2012-2022

  • 4.74 million Australians over 50 years of age (66% of people over 50) have osteoporosis or osteopenia or poor bone health.
  • Based on the 4.74 million Australians with poor bone health, 22% have osteoporosis and 78% have osteopenia.
  • By 2022, it is estimated there will be 6.2 million Australians over the age of 50 with osteoporosis or osteopenia. That is a 31% increase from 2012.

High fracture rates: 2012-2022

  • In 2013 there is 1 fracture every 3.6 minutes in Australia. This equates to 395 fractures per day or 2,765 fractures per week.
  • By 2022 there will be 1 fracture every 2.9 minutes. That is 501 fractures per day and 3,521 fracture per week.
  • This compares to a fracture every 8.1 minutes in 2001 and a fracture every 5-6 minutes in 2007.
  • In 2012 there were 140,822 fractures that occurred as a result of osteoporosis or osteopenia. In 2022 it is expected there will be a 30% increase in the annual number of fractures resulting in 183,105 fractures per annum.
  • The estimated total number of fractures over the next 10 years is over 1.6 million. This includes new fractures and re-fractures.
  • Osteoporosis and osteopenia is not just a ‘women’s disease.’ Men account for up to 30% of all fractures related to osteoporosis and osteopenia, and their associated costs.

Alarming costs to Government, the community and to individuals

  • In 2012, the total costs of osteoporosis and osteopenia in Australians over 50 years of age were $2.75 billion.
  • It is predicted that in 2022, the total costs will be $3.84 billion (2012$).
  • That is a total cost of fractures of $22.7 billion over the next 10 years. These costs include ambulance services, hospitalisations, emergency department and outpatient services, rehabilitation, aged care and community services.
  • Total direct and indirect cost of osteoporosis, osteopenia and associated fractures over 10 years is $33.6 billion (2012$).

Call to action

Previous reports have included recommendations for action. What is telling is that the recommendations here are the same as previous reports.

  • That a re-fracture prevention initiative be funded to follow-up and co-ordinate the care of every Australian who has sustained their first fragility fracture.
  • That bone density testing for menopausal women aged 50 with risk factors for osteoporosis be reimbursed.
  • That more funding be provided for education and awareness programs about healthy bones as prevention is best, and the high rates of osteopenia are alarming.
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