NIH News Release
Office of Medical Applications of Research

National Institute of Arthritis
and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Thursday, March 23, 2000
Contacts: John Bowersox (OMAR)
(301) 496-4819

Judith Wortman (NIAMS)
(301) 496-8190

NIH Consensus Development Conference Will Address
Osteoporosis Prevention, Diagnosis and Therapy

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will hold a Consensus Development Conference on Osteoporosis Prevention, Diagnosis, and Therapy, March 27-29, 2000, in the main auditorium of the William H. Natcher Building on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. A news conference will conclude the 2 1/2-day meeting at 1 p.m. EST on Wednesday, March 29, 2000.

Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to bone fragility and an increased susceptibility to fractures — especially of the hip, spine, and wrist. About 10 million people in the United States have osteoporosis, making it the most prevalent bone disease in this country. An additional 18 million individuals in this country already have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for this disease. Women are four times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis once was believed to be an unavoidable consequence of aging. That view has changed in recent years, however, thanks to remarkable progress in the scientific understanding of its causes, diagnosis, and treatment. The NIH has organized this conference to help clarify the factors associated with prevention and better diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis. The conference will bring together national and international experts in the fields of medicine, orthopedic surgery, endocrinology, rheumatology, nutrition, epidemiology, and biostatistics, as well as representatives from the public, to discuss the latest osteoporosis research findings.

After 1 1/2 days of presentations and audience discussion, an independent, non-Federal consensus panel will weigh the scientific evidence and draft a statement that will address the following key questions:

The panel will present its draft statement to the public for comment at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 29. Following this public comment session, the panel will release its revised consensus statement at a news conference at 1 p.m. and take questions from the media.

The consensus statement is the report of an independent panel and is not a policy statement of the NIH or the Federal Government. The NIH Consensus Development Program was established in 1977 to resolve in an unbiased manner controversial topics in medicine. To date, NIH has conducted 110 such conferences addressing a wide range of controversial medical issues important to health care providers, patients, and the general public.

Additional information about this conference, including the meeting agenda, local area hotels, and directions to NIH, is available at the NIH Consensus Development Program Web site at

NOTE TO TV EDITORS: The news conference at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29 will be broadcast live via satellite on the following coordinates: Galaxy 6, Transponder 5; C-Band; Download Frequency 3800; Polarity Horizontal. (Test time 12:30 - 1:00 p.m.)

NOTE TO RADIO EDITORS: An audio report of the conference results will be available after 4 p.m. March 29, 2000 from the NIH Radio News Service by calling 1-800-MED-DIAL (1-800-633-3425).

The NIH Consensus Development Conference on Osteoporosis Prevention, Diagnosis, and Therapy will be broadcast live on the Internet by NIH Videocasting. Go to the NIH Videocast Web site — — any day during the conference and look for the link to the conference under "Today's Events." Viewing the videocast requires RealPlayer software, which can be downloaded from the NIH Videocast Web site.