Who is treated?

A study completed in the UK shows that at any moment approximately 1% of the general population is treated with oral corticosteroids through either oral, intravenous or intramuscular administration. This figure does not take into account those patients that have received corticosteroids by other routes of ingestion (e.g. inhalation or dermal application)

This figure has steadily risen over the past 20 years.

Broncho-pulmonary and rheumatologic diseases are the most common conditions that need prescription of oral corticosteroids as part of their treatment.

Several studies have shown that the average age of patients that underwent prolonged cortisone treatments ranged from 65 to 70 years. At any time, about 3% of women and 2.5% of men aged 70 to 80 years old undergo prolonged treatment with corticosteroids via oral or parenteral (e.g. intravenous, intra-muscular) routes of administration.

The average age of patients treated with cortisone on short-term treatments is about 55 years.

Approximately 60% of prescriptions are for women.

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  • Walsh LJ et col. Use of oral corticosteroids in the community and the prevention of secondary osteoporosis. BMJ 1996
  • Van Staa TP et col. Use of oral corticosteroids in the United Kingdom. QJM 2000