New Canadian 'report card' reveals major gaps in access to BMD testing and medications across the country

A new report released by Osteoporosis Canada indicates that Canada's publicly-funded health care system is failing large numbers of citizens who suffer painful fractures as a result of osteoporosis.

A new report - Breaking Barriers, Not Bones: 2008 National Report Card on Osteoporosis - released today by Osteoporosis Canada indicates that Canada’s publicly-funded health care system is failing large numbers of citizens who suffer painful fractures as a result of osteoporosis.

This and other Canadian policy reports available here.

In its press release, Osteoporosis Canada, describes the report as the first large-scale national Report Card of its kind to assess and grade Canadians’ access to BMD testing and osteoporosis medications on provincial/territorial drug benefit plans across the country. Breaking Barriers, Not Bones also looks at various provincial initiatives undertaken to help in the care of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis Canada produced the report in an effort to highlight provincial activity related to osteoporosis care. Information and data provided by provincial and territorial governments was evaluation and summarized to provide a cross-country picture of government initiatives.

Although in Canada one in four women and at least one in eight men over the age of 50 have osteoporosis, only a small number of these Canadians are being referred for bone mineral density (BMD) testing, an essential tool in the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis. Those who are referred may face long wait times depending on where they live. Further, access to publicly-funded drug treatment options that can help prevent fractures varies dramatically across the country, and in some provinces, individuals with osteoporosis are unable to access them.

The report shows differences in provincial standards. For example, analysis of the data on current rates of BMD testing across the country indicate that access is far from adequate – most provinces received a grade of C or lower, despite the existence of guidelines for identifying those who should be tested. The grades ranged from two B’s (Alberta, Ontario); one C (British Columbia); six D’s (Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories); followed by two failing grades of F (Saskatchewan, Manitoba). Furthermore, an assessment of the availability of osteoporosis medications on provincial/territorial public drug plans yielded grades that ranged significantly from one A (Quebec); two B’s (Ontario and Yukon); six C’s (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador); a C minus (British Columbia); to a failing grade of F (Prince Edward Island).

“Osteoporosis has a profound impact on an individual’s quality of life and a tremendous financial burden on Canada’s health care system,” said Dr. Famida Jiwa, Vice President, and Chair, Report Card Committee, Osteoporosis Canada,. “The report makes it clear that Canadians in some parts of the country have poorer access to diagnosis and treatment than in others, and that’s unacceptable. Ensuring that Canadians with osteoporosis have access to adequate care regardless of where they live must be a priority.”

“Reducing fractures through risk reduction, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of patients should be the goal of our health care system in addressing osteoporosis care,” said Julie Foley, President and CEO, Osteoporosis Canada. “With early diagnosis, individuals can manage their osteoporosis and significantly reduce their fracture risk through treatment and life style changes. These include regular exercise, adequate intake of vitamin D and calcium…”
• Breaking Barriers, Not Bones also presents a number of recommendation, including a call for collaboration between the federal and provincial/territorial governments to create a national strategy, supported by parallel provincial/territorial strategies that provide coordinated osteoporosis care.

Established in 1982, Osteoporosis Canada (OC) was the first national organization for osteoporosis in the world and is the only national charitable organization serving Canadians who have, or are at risk of, osteoporosis.