Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Study suggests hip fractures not caused by benzodiazepine use after all

Policies developed to limit sedative prescriptions based on older studies may need examining

Benzodiazepine use was not shown to be associated with hip fractures after all, according to a new study from the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention (of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care). Previous epidemiological studies suggesting an association have been used to support legislation and policy decisions that limit access to these drugs among the elderly. These policies may need to be reexamined based on these new findings, which are being published in the Jan. 16 Annals of Internal Medicine.

Benzodiazepines are sedative drugs prescribed for anxiety, sleep, and seizure disorders. Concerns about abuse, misuse, and adverse effects of these drugs--including hip fractures among the elderly--have prompted state and national policies intended to regulate access to them. Since January 2006, benzodiazepines have been excluded from coverage through the Medicare Part D drug benefit.

Hip fractures are the most serious individual and public health risks attributed to benzodiazepines because they often lead to disability and death among the elderly. An expected benefit of limiting access to these drugs is a decrease in the incidence of falls and resulting hip fractures. However, no data exist to demonstrate this policy effect.

Anita Wagner, PharmD, MPH, DrPH, lead author of the study and assistant professor of ambulatory care and prevention in the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention (DACP) of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and colleagues studied whether a state policy that drastically decreased use of benzodiazepines resulted in fewer hip fractures among the elderly. They looked for changes in hip fracture rates in a stable population of more than 90,000 Medicaid recipients age 65 and older before and after a policy was implemented in New York in 1989 requiring benzodiazepine prescribing on triplicate forms. Since then, all physicians in the state are required to obtain, pay for, and use serially-numbered triplicate forms to prescribe benzodiazepines. Pharmacists forward one copy of the prescription to state health authorities for surveillance, allowing for monitoring of each physician's prescribing, each pharmacy's dispensing, and each patient's receipt of benzodiazepines.

The policy resulted in an immediate 60 percent reduction in benzodiazepine use among women and 58 percent among men. The neighboring demographically-similar state New Jersey did not regulate benzodiazepine prescribing and benzodiazepine use did not change. Incidence of hip fracture before and after the policy change was similar.

"The policy drastically decreased use of benzodiazepines in New York and we did not see any decline in hip fracture rates compared to New Jersey; in fact, we seem to see an increase in New York over New Jersey," says Wagner.

There are several possible explanations for the study results. Most plausible, however, are biases in the previous studies that found a relationship between these drugs and hip fractures.

"It is very challenging to answer the question whether or not benzodiazepines cause hip fractures. People who get benzodiazepines, such as chronically ill elderly patients with dementia, have conditions, like dementia, that can cause hip fractures--and their hip fractures may not be due to their benzodiazepines," says Wagner.

"The challenge of disentangling the effects of benzodiazepines from other causes of hip fractures in the elderly is especially concerning when study results are used to guide policies that restrict access to medicines for huge populations," says senior author Stephen Soumerai, ScD, professor of ambulatory care and prevention at DACP.

Policy makers may expect that reducing access to benzodiazepines under Medicare Part D and other policies will decrease hip fracture risk. "Our study suggests that these expectations are not justified," says Soumerai.

Additionally, if benzodiazepine medications are abruptly terminated, as may be the case when people lose coverage of a drug, negative effects can occur, such as withdrawal reactions, seizures, emergency department visits, and hospital admissions. These may offset any potential savings achieved by limiting coverage of benzodiazepines.

The investigators are currently funded by a grant from the National Institute on Aging to monitor the impact of the Medicare Drug Benefit. They believe future studies based on these new data will shed additional light on how policies that exclude coverage for benzodiazepines affect the rate of hip fracture among the elderly.

Leah Gourley | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>