From: Frost & Sullivan
Published: Mon Oct 31 2005

Sydney, October 31, 2005 – The ageing baby boomer population coupled with a market without recent product introductions are presenting growth opportunities in the Australian osteoporosis therapeutics market.

In a recent report examining the Australian osteoporosis therapeutics market for non-hormonal prescription medications namely bisphosphonates, SERMs and parathyroid hormone, Frost & Sullivan Australia Director, Rhenu Malhotra notes, "Despite the popularity of bisphosphonates in treating osteoporosis, there is room for improvement in terms of drug efficacy and shorter dosage regimens. Although weekly courses of Fosamax and Actonel have proven effective in managing osteoporosis, strict posture and fasting guidelines coupled with gastrointestinal side effects limit patient compliance".

Side effects should not be underestimated as osteoporosis patients are usually those beyond the age of forty, with prevalence increasing with age. Many osteoporosis patients thus, are likely to be on several other types of medication which may lead to each drug interfering with the other and negatively effecting patients.

In addition, the market is still in need of more drugs that not only slow the rate of bone loss but also assist in building bones. Such shortcomings in existing treatments are presenting growth opportunities to new market entrants. The introduction of bisphosphonates with monthly and yearly dosing regimens is expected to improve patient compliance, while new anabolic agents are expected to provide severe sufferers with better treatment options.

Commenting on new entrants to the market, Malhotra says, "market penetration will not be easily achieved as there is an established market leader with almost 70 per cent market share".

Furthermore, the existence of strict guidelines for PBS (Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme) reimbursement which restricts use of osteoporosis drugs only to patients who have had a fracture translates to accessibility problems for those who are osteoporotic but have not had a fracture. This means that new products need to show effectiveness in moderate to severe osteoporosis patients to be successful.

Low awareness and poor understanding of the disease are also major factors behind the late diagnosis and ineffective treatment for the millions suffering from osteoporosis. The symptoms behind osteoporosis are not easily recognizable until multiple fractures have occurred making it all the more difficult for accurate diagnosis and timely treatment. "Plain X-rays also fail to reveal bone loss until 20 to 50 per cent loss has already occurred," observes Malhotra.

"Consequently, we estimate that only approximately 50 per cent of the estimated 2 million patients in Australia suffering from osteoporosis are diagnosed and treated."

As such, manufacturers should aim for public awareness via comprehensive product introductions that target physicians and patients, and retain well trained sales and marketing teams in order to maintain strong growth in this market.

Adds Malhotra, "manufacturers also need sound clinical data to back up efficacy claims especially in terms of fracture risk reduction and side effect profiles to show product superiority".

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If you’d like to know more about the Australian Osteoporosis Therapeutics Market, or to schedule an interview with Rhenu Malhotra, please contact:

Sharmin Jassal
Corporate Communications - Australia
P: +61.2.8247.8900
F: +61.2.9252.8066

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