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Generic Name:

pamidronate, Injectable solution

All Brands

  • Aredia (Discontinued)
A discontinued drug is a drug that has been taken off the market due to safety issues, shortage of raw materials, or low market demand.
SECTION 1 of 4

Highlights for pamidronate

Injectable solution
1

Pamidronate is an injectable medication used to treat high calcium levels due to malignant cancer, Paget disease of the bone, bone-breaking tumors in breast cancer, or abnormal tissue (lesions) in bone marrow cancer (multiple myeloma). This drug is given in your doctor’s office or hospital. You won’t take it at home.

2

Before you start and during treatment with this drug, your doctor will check your electrolyte levels and your kidney function. Your dose may be adjusted based on how well your kidneys work. You may need to take supplements with this medication if your electrolyte levels are low.

3

Pamidronate can cause breaks (fractures) in your thighbone (femur). You may have thigh or groin pain for weeks or months before you notice a fracture. Tell your doctor about any thigh or groin pain.

4

Don’t take pamidronate if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It can harm your unborn baby.

5

Pamidronate can cause problems in the bone of your jaw (osteonecrosis). Make sure to have a dental checkup before you start taking this drug. You shouldn’t have extensive dental procedures done while you’re on pamidronate. Tell your doctor if you have dental problems or plan to have a dental procedure.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Thighbone fracture warning

Pamidronate can cause fractures in your thighbone (femur). You may have thigh or groin pain for weeks or months before you notice a femur fracture. Tell your doctor about any thigh or groin pain because this may be a sign of fracture.

Jawbone problems warning

Pamidronate can cause problems in the bone of your jaw (osteonecrosis). Make sure to have a dental checkup before you start taking this drug. You shouldn’t have extensive dental procedures done while you’re on pamidronate. Tell your doctor if you have dental problems or plan to have a dental procedure.

Kidney failure warning

Pamidronate can reduce your kidney function or cause your kidneys to stop working. Tell your doctor if you have a history of kidney problems. Let them know if you produce less or no urine while you’re taking pamidronate. This may be a sign of kidney failure.

What is pamidronate?

Pamidronate is a prescription drug. It’s available as an injectable solution, which is only given by a healthcare provider.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. That means you need to take it with other drugs.

Why it's used

Pamidronate is used to:

  • decrease bone breakdown in Paget disease (a bone disorder).
  • decrease the bone spread of cancer in breast cancer or bone marrow cancer (multiple myeloma).
  • treat high calcium levels due to cancer.

How it works

Pamidronate belongs to a class of drugs called bisphosphonates. A class of drugs refers to medications that work similarly. They have a similar chemical structure and are often used to treat similar conditions. Pamidronate is a second-generation bisphosphonate.

More Details

How It Works

Pamidronate belongs to a class of drugs called bisphosphonates. A class of drugs refers to medications that work similarly. They have a similar chemical structure and are often used to treat similar conditions. Pamidronate is a second-generation bisphosphonate.

Pamidronate binds to minerals in your bone to slow down bone loss.

Bone cancer can damage bone, causing calcium from the bone to end up in the blood. Pamidronate also helps to decrease high calcium levels by slowing the release of calcium from bones.

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SECTION 2 of 4

pamidronate Side Effects

Injectable solution

Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with pamidronate depend on the
condition you are treating. The side effects include:

  • High calcium level from malignant cancer

    • fever
    • nausea
    • infusion site reactions Symptoms include:
      • redness
      • pain
      • swelling
    • low blood calcium levels. Symptoms include:
      • tingling or “pins and needles” feeling in your hands, feet, mouth, and lips
      • uncontrolled tightening of your hand muscles
    • low blood phosphate levels. Symptoms include:
      • confusion
      • irritability
      • difficulty swallowing
      • muscle weakness
  • Paget disease of the bone

    • increase in body temperature
    • high blood pressure
    • swelling and pain of joints (arthrosis)
    • bone pain
    • headache
  • Osteolytic bone metastases in breast cancer

    • bone pain
    • nausea
    • anemia. Symptoms include:
      • dizziness
      • lightheadedness
    • fever
    • fatigue
    • vomiting
    • shortness of breath
  • Multiple myeloma

    • bone pain
    • nausea
    • anemia. Symptoms include:
      • dizziness
      • lightheadedness
    • fever
    • fatigue
    • vomiting
    • shortness of breath

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life threatening, or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • kidney failure. Symptoms include:

    • producing less urine or no urine
  • electrolyte problems. Symptoms include:

    • low blood phosphate levels: confusion, muscle weakness, worsening of infections, double vision, difficulty swallowing, and tremor
    • low blood potassium levels: weakness, muscle cramps and numbness,  confusion, irritability, and abnormal heart rate 
    • low blood magnesium levels: nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, tremors, tiredness, and irregular heart rate
  • bone problems in your jaw (osteonecrosis) Symptoms include:

    • pain
    • swelling
    • feeling of heaviness or numbness in your jaw
    • infection or poor healing of your gums
    • loose teeth
  •  fractures of your thighbone (femur). Symptoms include:

    • thigh or groin pain
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug may cause drowsiness when taken in large doses.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
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pamidronate May Interact with Other Medications

Injectable solution

Pamidronate can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. Your healthcare provider will look out for interactions with your current medications. Always be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, herbs, or vitamins you’re taking.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Pamidronate Warnings
kidney problems
People with kidney problems

Pamidronate may worsen any kidney problems you may have and can cause your kidneys to stop working. You doctor may start you on lower doses of pamidronate if your kidneys do not work well. If your kidney function decreases while you are getting pamidronate, your doctor will wait until your kidneys work well again before restarting pamidronate.

low electrolyte levels
People with low electrolyte levels

If you have low levels of phosphate, potassium, calcium, or magnesium, pamidronate can lower them further. Electrolyte monitoring and replacement may be needed.

high blood pressure
People with high blood pressure

Pamidronate may cause or worsen high blood pressure. Blood pressure monitoring and dose changes for your blood pressure medicines may be needed.

anemia
People with anemia

Pamidronate may cause or worsen anemia that you have. Blood monitoring will be needed and anemia treated.

pregnant women
Pregnant women

Pamidronate is a category D pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Studies show a risk of adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. The benefits of taking the drug during pregnancy may outweigh the potential risks in certain cases.

Don’t take pamidronate if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. This drug can harm your baby. It can affect your child for weeks to years after you stop taking it. Ask your doctor about effective forms of birth control while you’re taking pamidronate. Tell your doctor right away if you think that you’re pregnant.

breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

It isn’t known if pamidronate passes through breast milk. If it does, it may cause serious effects in a breastfeeding child.

You and your doctor may need to decide if you’ll take pamidronate or breastfeed.

for seniors
For Seniors

As you age, you may have reduced kidney function. Your doctor may start you on a lower dose of this drug so that too much of it doesn’t build up in your body. Too much of the drug in your body can be toxic.

for children
For Children

This medicine hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years old.

allergies
Allergies

Pamidronate can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms may include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat, tongue, mouth, lips, hands, or feet
  • hives

Don’t take pamidronate if you’re allergic to pamidronate, other bisphosphonates, or mannitol.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal.

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How to Take pamidronate (Dosage)

Injectable solution

Your doctor will determine a dose that’s right for you based on your individual needs. Your general health may affect your dose. Tell your doctor about all health conditions you have before your doctor or nurse administers the drug to you.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Pamidronate comes with serious risks if you don't take it as prescribed.

If You Don’t Take It at All

If you don’t take the infusions as your doctor told you or if you miss your appointments, your condition may get worse as the drug won’t be as effective.

If You Take Too Much

Taking too much pamidronate can increase your risk for serious side effects, including low calcium (hypocalcemia). This can lead to serious heart rate and rhythm problems. If you take too much pamidronate, call 9-1-1.

What to Do If You Miss a Dose/Appointment

If you miss a dose or appointment, you should call your doctor right away to reschedule it.

How to Tell the Drug Is Working

Your doctor will tell you if pamidronate is working for you. You may also notice an improvement in your symptoms.

Pamidronate can be a short-term or long-term treatment depending on which condition is being treated and how you respond to the drug.

Be sure to keep all of your scheduled appointments

Your injections need to be taken on schedule.

How long does it take?

Depending on the indication, the infusion may take between 2 hours and 24 hours.

Can I drive home after?

Pamidronate may cause drowsiness if you receive high doses. You may need to have someone drive you home after your infusion.

Travel

This medication is only given by your health provider, who is familiar with your medical history and at a location with appropriate medical support to treat severe infusion reactions. You cannot get treatment in other locations, so it’s important to tell your doctor in advance if you plan to travel. Treatment with pamidronate may interfere with your travel plans.

In certain cases, you may need additional tests

If your doctor thinks that you may have:

  • a fracture of your thighbone (femur), you may have an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of your thigh.
  • osteonecrosis of your jaw, an X-ray may be done.

Clinical Monitoring

Before and during treatment with pamidronate, your doctor will do tests to check your health and to make sure that the drug is working and safe for you to take. Tests include: 

  • kidney function
  • blood tests to measure phosphate, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and potassium levels
  • dental exams
  • urine tests to measure calcium, creatinine, and hydroxyproline/creatinine ratios

Your doctor may also check you for:

  • bone and joint pain
  • osteoporosis
  • jaw pain or infection
  • thigh or groin pain related to femur fractures
  • infusion site reactions. Symptoms include: redness, pain, or swelling at the infusion site.

Your Diet

During treatment with pamidronate, it’s important to drink plenty of water to avoid kidney problems. Ask your doctor how much fluid you should drink.

Insurance

Many insurance companies will require a prior authorization before they approve the prescription and pay for pamidronate.


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Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on July 10, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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