Celebrity sellingBMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7349.1342 (Published 01 June 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1342
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I am writing to put the record straight regarding two initiatives
mentioned in a recent article by Mr Moynihan (1). As a member of the
Board of Directors of the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), I
am responsible for healthcare policy projects and I take exception to the
idea that such projects may somehow be tied to drug promotion.
Indeed, the basis for the two initiatives mentioned in the article
(an audit report of osteoporosis-related policy developments in the
European Community, and the recent Women Leaders’ Roundtable in Lisbon)
was a 1998 European Commission publication (2). The IOF initiatives were
designed to encourage appropriate prevention, diagnosis and treatment of
osteoporosis, a debilitating, serious disease that is all too often
overlooked until after bones have been broken.
It is precisely this goal that motivates all of us at the IOF to
contribute to these initiatives; we believe in what we are doing because
we have scientific evidence to back it up. The IOF is dedicated to the
millions of people around the world who suffer, often unnecessarily, from
the day-to-day consequences of osteoporosis. And so are the high-profile
women, including Mrs Parker Bowles, who participated in the Roundtable
with no financial incentive at all. In addition, many volunteer members
of the IOF worked round the clock to coordinate these initiatives. I owe
it to all these people to put the record straight about the inaccuracies
in the recent article.
First, the basis for the “call to action” signed by women leaders at
the Roundtable was the above-mentioned 1998 European Commission
publication (2) not a previous IOF report as stated in the article.
Second, the article casts doubt on the efficacy of bone mineral
density scans to predict fracture. However, physicians who are
knowledgeable about osteoporosis agree that this type of diagnostic test
is accurate and precise (3).
Third, the article implies that IOF advocates bone mineral density
screening for all women, but this is not true. IOF encourages women and
men with the well documented clinical risk factors (3) to seek their
doctor’s advice about being assessed for osteoporotic fracture risk.
The IOF and the women dignitaries who participated in the Roundtable
meeting support the urgency to take action and manage this serious disease
because it is well documented that the burden of osteoporotic fractures
(4) worldwide will increase dramatically over the next twenty years unless
action is taken now.
Mary Anderson BSc (Hons) Pharm
Member of the Board of Directors
International Osteoporosis Foundation
(1) R Moynihan. Celebrity Selling. BMJ 2002; 324: 1342 (June 1)
(2) Report on osteoporosis in the European Community – Action for
prevention. 1998 European Commission ISBN 92-828-5333-0 CE-09-97-915-EN-
(3) JA Kanis, PD Delmas, P Burckhardt, C Cooper and D Torgerson.
Guidelines for Diagnosis and Management of Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis
International (1997) 7:390-406
(4) B Gullberg, O Johnell, JA Kanis. Worldwide projections for hip
fracture. Osteoporosis International (1997) 7:407-413
Competing interests: No competing interests