Alendronate is used to treat and prevent osteoporosis (a condition in which the bones become thin and weak and break easily) in women who have undergone menopause (''change of life,'' end of menstrual periods) and to treat osteoporosis in men. Alendronate is also used to treat osteoporosis in men and women who are taking corticosteroids (a type of medication that may cause osteoporosis in some patients). Alendronate is also used to treat Paget's disease of bone (a condition in which the bones are soft and weak and may be deformed, painful, or easily broken). Alendronate is in a class of medications called bisphosphonates. It works by preventing bone breakdown and increasing bone density (thickness).
Alendronate comes as a tablet and a solution (liquid) to take by mouth. The solution is usually taken on an empty stomach once a week in the morning. The 5-mg and 10-mg tablets are usually taken on an empty stomach once a day in the morning, and the 35-mg and 70-mg tablets are usually taken on an empty stomach once a week in the morning. The 40-mg tablets are usually taken once a day in the morning for six months to treat Paget's disease of bone. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take alendronate exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
You must take alendronate just after you get out of bed in the morning, before you eat or drink anything. Never take alendronate at bedtime or before you wake up and get out of bed for the day.
Swallow alendronate tablets with a full glass (6 to 8 ounces [180 to 240 mL]) of plain water. Drink at least a quarter of a cup (2 ounces [60 mL]) of plain water after you take alendronate solution. Never take alendronate tablets or solution with tea, coffee, juice, milk, mineral water, sparkling water, or any liquid other than plain water.
Swallow the tablets whole; do not split, chew or crush them. Do not suck on the tablets.
After you take alendronate, do not eat, drink, or take any other medications (including vitamins or antacids) for at least 30 minutes. Do not lie down for at least 30 minutes after you take alendronate. Sit upright or stand upright until at least 30 minutes have passed and you have eaten your first food of the day.
Alendronate controls osteoporosis and Paget's disease of bone but does not cure these conditions. It may take 3 months or longer before your bone density begins to increase. Alendronate helps to treat and prevent osteoporosis only as long as it is taken regularly. Continue to take alendronate even if you feel well. Do not stop taking alendronate without talking to your doctor, but talk to your doctor from time to time about whether you still need to take alendronate.
Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer's information for the patient.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
You should eat and drink plenty of foods and drinks that are rich in calcium and vitamin D while you are taking alendronate. Your doctor will tell you which foods and drinks are good sources of these nutrients and how many servings you need each day. If you find it difficult to eat enough of these foods, tell your doctor. In that case, your doctor can prescribe or recommend a supplement.
If you miss a dose of once-daily alendronate, do not take it later in the day. Skip the missed dose and take one dose the next morning as usual. If you miss a dose of once-weekly alendronate, take one dose the morning after you remember. Then return to taking one dose once each week on your regularly scheduled day. Never take a double dose to make up for a missed one, and never take more than one dose in one day.
bloating or fullness in the stomach
change in ability to taste food
swelling of the joints, hands, or legs
new or worsening heartburn
pain on swallowing
bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
black, tarry, or bloody stools
blisters or peeling skin
rash (may be made worse by sunlight)
swelling of eyes, face, lips, tongue, or throat
painful or swollen gums
loosening of the teeth
numbness or heavy feeling in the jaw
poor healing of the jaw
dull, aching pain in the hips, groin, or thighs
Taking a bisphosphonate medication such as alendronate for osteoporosis may increase the risk that you will break your thigh bone(s). You may feel pain in your hips, groin, or thighs for several weeks or months before the bone(s) break, and you may find that one or both of your thigh bones have broken even though you have not fallen or experienced other trauma. It is unusual for the thigh bone to break in healthy people, but people who have osteoporosis may break this bone even if they do not take alendronate. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking alendronate.
Alendronate may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Do not freeze alendronate solution. Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of overdose, give the victim a full glass of milk and call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911. Do not allow the victim to lie down and do not try to make the victim vomit.
bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
difficulty swallowing or pain when swallowing
bloody or black and tarry stools
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your body's response to alendronate.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
Last Revised - 03/15/2013
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, 2013. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.