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.
Alendronate may not work properly and may damage the esophagus (tube between the mouth and stomach) or cause sores in the mouth if it is not taken according to the following instructions. Tell your doctor if you do not understand, you do not think you will remember, or you are unable to follow these instructions:
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.
Before taking alendronate,
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.
Alendronate may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately before you take any more alendronate:
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 ( Web Site) 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.
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website ( Web Site) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. Web Site
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.
Symptoms of overdose may include the following:
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.