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Media Release by The Hon Julie Bishop MP

Osteoporosis listing good news for Australian women

The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, welcomed the announcement today of the extension of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to listing of the osteoporosis medication Alendronate and the extension of the bone mineral density tests to allow pre-fracture testing for people aged 70 years and over.

From 1 April 2007, Alendronate (in the form of Fosamax® Once Weekly and Alendro® Once Weekly) will be available on the PBS for patients with osteoporosis aged 70 years and over who are at high risk of fracture as measured by a bone mineral density test. Alendronate is already available on the PBS for patients with osteoporosis who have suffered a bone fracture following minimal trauma.

Minister Bishop said, “Treating osteoporosis for patients at high risk of fracture as well as those who have already suffered a fracture with minimal trauma is a sound approach that covers prevention as well as treatment for a current injury.”

Nearly two million Australians have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals such as calcium. Bones become fragile and brittle, leading to a higher risk of fractures than normal bone. Fractures can lead to long-term pain and disability, loss of independence and can contribute to premature death. Women, as they age, are at particular risk of fracture due to osteoporosis.

“Supporting affordable access to Alendronate for these patients will help prevent injury and loss of independence for many women later in life,” Minister Bishop said.