Antiresorptive agents are bone preserving medications which can slow down the bone loss associated with osteoporosis (O’Neil et al. 2004). These reduce bone loss by inhibiting bone degeneration activity and/or promoting bone formation. This report examines the supply pattern of antiresorptives for management of osteoporosis in Australia during 2003–07.

Who received antiresorptive drugs? 

  • A total of 562,597 Australians were supplied with at least one antiresorptive medication for the management of osteoporosis in the 5-year period from 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2007.
  • Of the above total, 297,795 people received their first antiresorptive medication during the 5-year period between 1 July 2003 and 30 June 2007. They are referred to as ‘the initiating cohort’, as they were considered to have commenced antiresorptive therapy in this time period.
  • Three quarters of the initiating cohort were females and aged 65 years and over.

What antiresorptive drugs were supplied? 

  • Alendronate and risedronate were typically the first drugs supplied for treatment of osteoporosis (or first-prescribed medicine) during the study period, and the majority of the initiating cohort (96%) was supplied with one of these.
  • Combination bisphosphonates overtook single formulation of bisphosphonate as the first-prescribed antiresorptive in the year between July 2006 and June 2007.

Who prescribed antiresorptive drugs? 

  • General practitioners (GPs) and other primary care medical practitioners (OMPs) played a major role in prescribing antiresorptives and managing osteoporosis. The majority of the initiating cohort (88%) was prescribed with antiresorptives by their GPs/OMPs.  
  • During the first 12 months of antiresorptive therapy, the majority of the patients received their prescriptions from one or two prescribers (71% and 24%, respectively).

Were enough antiresorptives supplied during the first 12 months of treatment? 

  • Two in 5 patients (40%) did not receive the quantity of antiresorptives required to maintain sufficient regular intake of this medication during the first 12 months of therapy to receive the adequate benefits.

Did patients continue to receive antiresorptives after their first supply? 

  • During the first 12 months of antiresorptive therapy, one quarter (25%) of the patients had stopped receiving antiresorptives by 6 months; one in 10 (10%) only received the first supply.
  • There appears to be a clear need to monitor the use of antiresorptive therapy, particularly in the first 6 to 7 months to ensure appropriate health benefits are obtained at both individual and population levels.