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Osteoporosis Medicine Decision Welcomed

MEDIACOM-RELEASE-MERCK-SHARP-&-DOHME

OSTEOPOROSIS MEDICINE DECISION WELCOMED

The decision to subsidise the osteoporosis medication Fosamax r from next month is an excellent start toward improving the quality of life for the estimated 30% of New Zealand women over the age of 50 who have osteoporosis, the medicine's manufacturer said today (Monday 17 January 2000).

"It is pleasing that New Zealand's most severe osteoporosis sufferers can join the 3.5 million people worldwide who are having their condition treated with Fosamax," Alister Brown, Managing Director of Merck Sharp and Dohme (NZ) Ltd. said today.

"Fosamax is the only medicine available for osteoporosis conclusively proven to reduce the risk of further fractures at the key osteoporosis sites - the hip, spine and wrist. Its subsidised availability here has been long awaited."

Fosamax has been available in this country since late 1995, and currently about 400 New Zealand sufferers pay the full cost of the medication.

From February 1, New Zealand specialists will be able to provide fully subsidised access to Fosamax for patients with two prior osteoporotic fractures and very low bone mass (three standard deviations below the mean normal value in young adults).

"We look forward to a greater number of New Zealand osteoporosis sufferers being granted access to Fosamax in the not too distant future," Mr Brown concluded.

ENDS...

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