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Bisphosphonate alternative regimens for the prevention of osteoporotic fragility fractures: BLAST-OFF, a mixed-methods study

Sahota, Opinder; Narayanasamy, Melanie; Bastounis, Anastasios; Paskins, Zoe; Bishop, Simon; Langley, Tessa; Gittoes, Neil; Davis, Sarah; Baily, Ann; Holmes, Moira; Leonardi-Bee, Jo

Bisphosphonate alternative regimens for the prevention of osteoporotic fragility fractures: BLAST-OFF, a mixed-methods study Thumbnail


Opinder Sahota

Anastasios Bastounis

Zoe Paskins

Neil Gittoes

Sarah Davis

Ann Baily

Moira Holmes

Professor of Evidence Synthesis


Background: Bisphosphonates are a class of medication commonly used to treat osteoporosis. Alendronate is recommended as the first-line treatment; however, long-term adherence (both treatment compliance and persistence) is poor. Alternative bisphosphonates are available, which can be given intravenously and have been shown to improve long-term adherence. However, the most clinically effective and cost-effective alternative bisphosphonate regimen remains unclear. What is the most cost-effective bisphosphonate in clinical trials may not be the most cost-effective or acceptable to patients in everyday clinical practice. Objectives: 1. Explore patient, clinician and stakeholder views, experiences and preferences of alendronate compared to alternative bisphosphonates. 2. Update and refine the 2016 systematic review and cost-effectiveness analysis of bisphosphonates, and estimate the value of further research into their benefits. 3. Undertake stakeholder/consensus engagement to identify important research questions and further rank research priorities. Methods: The study was conducted in two stages, stages 1A and 1B in parallel, followed by stage 2: • Stage 1A - we elicited patient and healthcare experiences to understand their preferences of bisphosphonates for the treatment of osteoporosis. This was undertaken by performing a systematic review and framework synthesis of qualitative studies, followed by semistructured qualitative interviews with participants. • Stage 1B - we updated and expanded the existing Health Technology Assessment systematic review and clinical and cost-effectiveness model, incorporating a more comprehensive review of treatment efficacy, safety, side effects, compliance and long-term persistence. • Stage 2 - we identified and ranked further research questions that need to be answered about the effectiveness and acceptability of bisphosphonates. Results: Patients and healthcare professionals identified a number of challenges in adhering to bisphosphonate medication, balancing the potential for long-term risk reduction against the work involved in adhering to oral alendronate. Intravenous zoledronate treatment was generally more acceptable, with such regimens perceived to be more straightforward to engage in, although a portion of patients taking alendronate were satisfied with their current treatment. Intravenous zoledronate was found to be the most effective, with higher adherence rates compared to the other bisphosphonates, for reducing the risk of fragility fracture. However, oral bisphosphonates are more cost-effective than intravenous zoledronate due to the high cost of zoledronate administration in hospital. The importance of including patients and healthcare professionals when setting research priorities is recognised. Important areas for research were related to patient factors influencing treatment selection and effectiveness, how to optimise long-term care and the cost-effectiveness of delivering zoledronate in an alternative, non-hospital setting. Conclusions: Intravenous zoledronate treatment was generally more acceptable to patients and found to be the most effective bisphosphonate and with greater adherence; however, the cost-effectiveness relative to oral alendronate is limited by its higher zoledronate hospital administration costs. Future work: Further research is needed to support people to make decisions influencing treatment selection, effectiveness and optimal long-term care, together with the clinical and cost-effectiveness of intravenous zoledronate administered in a non-hospital (community) setting. Limitations: Lack of clarity and limitations in the many studies included in the systematic review may have under-interpreted some of the findings relating to effects of bisphosphonates. Trial registration: This trial is registered as ISRCTN10491361. Funding: This award was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment programme (NIHR award ref: NIHR127550) and is published in full in Health Technology Assessment; Vol. 28, No. 21. See the NIHR Funding and Awards website for further award information.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 9, 2024
Publication Date 2024-04
Deposit Date Apr 11, 2024
Publicly Available Date Apr 11, 2024
Journal Health Technology Assessment
Print ISSN 1366-5278
Electronic ISSN 2046-4924
Publisher NIHR Journals Library
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 21
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Free to read: This content has been made freely available to all.; contractual_start_date: 10-2019; editorial review begun: 06-2022; Accepted for publication: 05-2023