Advances in osteoporosis treatment (along with some other mystery factor) have meant fewer broken hips, but a new NY Times article argues that clinicians may have gone too far in treating reduced bone density. According to the story, some docs are using the new FRAX diagnostic tool (which we covered in an article about male osteoporosis) to diagnose large numbers of patients with osteopenia. Many of these patients are then being prescribed bone-building drugs despite the lack of evidence for that treatment plan. So you get unnecessary medication side effects and additional health care costs out of what was supposed to be a helpful free tool. Oops.
On the subject of health care costs, an incidental point in the story is interesting. In the ACP Internist article on osteoporosis, experts talked about the unreimbursable expense of DXA scanning. According to the Times, there's a change on that front: drug companies are now paying for doctors' offices to install the scanners in the hopes of selling more osteoporosis drugs.