BASINGSTOKE, England, June 24 /PRNewswire/ --

- Help is at Hand for the Frail Elderly at Risk of Falls and Fractures via a New Medication Support Programme

As National Falls Awareness Day takes place this week, a new programme called 'Be Active' is being launched to help those already prescribed bone health supplements to take them more regularly, helping to prevent falls and reduce the burden on the NHS.

Almost 3 million people suffer from osteoporosis in the UK[1] and more than 300,000 people over the age of 65 visit hospital every year because of a fracture, leaving healthcare providers saddled with around GBP2 billion worth of healthcare costs.[2] This is expected to increase to GBP2.2 billion by 2020.[3] However, according to a study carried out in the last five years, some vitamin and mineral supplements can reduce the risk of falling by up to 49%.[4]

Evidence shows benefits of supplementation [4] [5] [6] yet people who have been prescribed a bone strengthening supplement often take it incorrectly, with approximately 30% of UK patients regularly missing a prescribed dose of some vitamin and mineral supplements[7]. People in the UK are one of the lowest users of bone health supplements across Europe; they are one of the least likely to recognise the importance of taking these supplements and one third of patients treated for osteoporosis who could benefit are not taking any.[7]

Dr Opinder Sahota, Consultant Physician at Queens Medical Centre University Hospital, Nottingham comments: Supplements are important for those at risk of debilitating falls and fractures. Not only do fractures impinge on an elderly patient's quality of life; often leaving them housebound and lonely, they can be fatal and many people die within the first year following a hip fracture. Supplementation can strengthen bones; therefore, ensuring that patients take their supplements correctly and regularly is crucial.

About 'Be Active'

The 'Be Active' programme has been sponsored, and is led by, Shire plc. The programme is being launched to raise awareness of the practical steps that patients at risk of falls and subsequent fractures can adopt to maintain their independence and mobility. Patients are more likely to experience the benefits of supplementation when they take them correctly and regularly.

Simple tools have been developed as part of the programme, including a DVD and quarterly magazine, to help patients make informed choices about lifestyle, diet and supplementation.

About supplementation

The benefits of some vitamin and mineral supplementation for those at risk of osteoporosis are well established with some intervention studies showing they may prevent fragility fractures.[8] For example, if the levels of calcium and vitamin D in the body are not high enough (according to a study carried out in 2008, the recommended daily dietary intake for those at increased risk of fracture is potentially in the region of 1000-1200 mg of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D), fracture risk can increase.[9] Vitamin D deficiency has also been shown to lead to muscle weakness.[10]

About falls and fractures

Falls are the leading cause of mortality due to injury in the over 75s in the UK[11] and up to 24% of fallers over 75 sustain a serious injury[12] that can lead to poor quality of life, despite costly hospitalisation and lengthy rehabilitation programmes.[13] Hip fractures and the fear of hip fractures are a psychological burden to the elderly, who fear loss of independence and institutional care.[14]

Shire plc

Shire's strategic goal is to become the leading specialty biopharmaceutical company that focuses on meeting the needs of the specialist physician. Shire focuses its business on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), human genetic therapies (HGT) and gastrointestinal (GI) diseases as well as opportunities in other therapeutic areas to the extent they arise through acquisitions. Shire's in-licensing, merger and acquisition efforts are focused on products in specialist markets with strong intellectual property protection and global rights. Shire believes that a carefully selected and balanced portfolio of products with strategically aligned and relatively small-scale sales forces will deliver strong results.


[1] [Accessed 12 June 2009]

[2] BOA Report: The Care of Patients with Fragility Fracture. 2007; September: 1-74

[3] Burge RT et al. J Med Econ. 2001; 4: 51-62

[4] Bischoff H.A, et al. JBMR. 2003; 18: 343-351

[5] Pfeifer. JBMR. 2000; 15:1113-1118

[6] Larsen. JBMR. 2004; 19: 370-378

[7] Boonen. Presented at ASBMR. 2008; 1:1

[8] Bonjour, JP. et al. Br J Cln Nutr. 2009; 1:1-16

[9] Rizolli R, et al. Bone. 2008; 42: 246-249

[10] Boland. Endocrine Review. 1986; 7: 434-447

[11] NSF. Standard Six: Falls. 2001; March: 76-83

[12] Tinetti. NEJM. 1988; 319: 1701-1707

[13] Fierens. Acta Chair Belg. 2006; 106: 393-396

[14] Salkeld. BMJ. 2000; 320: 341-346

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For more information, please contact: Laura Clewes, Resolute Communications, Tel: +44-(0)207-357-8187, Email: