Risedronate | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

risedronate, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Actonel
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for risedronate

Oral tablet
1

Risedronate is used to prevent or treat osteoporosis. It’s also used to treat Paget’s disease.

2

Risedronate comes in the form of a tablet or delayed-release tablet. Both tablets are taken by mouth. Delayed-release drugs are slowly released into the bloodstream over time.

3

Risedronate is available as the brand-name drugs Actonel (tablet) or Atelvia (delayed-release tablet). Both forms are also available as generic drugs.

4

The more common side effects of this drug include back pain, joint pain, stomach pain, upset stomach, diarrhea, or influenza (the flu).

5

In some cases, risedronate can cause serious side effects. These can include ulcers (sores) in the esophagus (the tube that connects the throat to the stomach). They can also include severe bone, joint, or muscle pain, bone death in the jaw, or broken bones.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Sores in the esophagus

Risedronate may cause ulcers (sores) in the esophagus (the tube that connects the throat to the stomach). These can be severe. Your doctor may monitor you for signs of these problems. These can include trouble swallowing, pain when swallowing, chest pain, or frequent heartburn.

Muscle and bone pain

Risedronate can cause severe bone, joint, or muscle pain. If you have these symptoms, stop taking this drug and call your doctor.

Osteonecrosis (bone death) of the jaw

Risedronate can cause poor blood supply to the jaw. This may lead to bone death of the jaw. This is more likely to occur after a major dental procedure. If you need to have dental work done, tell your doctor. You may need to stop taking this drug.

Broken bones

Risedronate can cause unusual fractures in the hip or leg bones. Before a fracture, you may have a dull, aching pain in your hips, groin, or thighs for weeks to months. If you have this kind of pain, talk to your doctor.

Drug features

Risedronate is a prescription drug. It comes in the form of a tablet or delayed-release tablet you take by mouth. Delayed-release drugs are slowly released into the bloodstream over time.

Risedronate is available as the brand-name drugs Actonel (tablet) or Atelvia (delayed-release tablet). Both tablets are also available as generic drugs. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. Talk to your doctor to see if the generic version will work for you.

Risedronate may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications. You may also need to take it with calcium or vitamin D supplements. These supplements can help make your bones strong and help keep them from breaking.

Why it's used

Risedronate is used to prevent or treat osteoporosis. With this condition, the bones become thin and weak, and break easily. Risedronate is also used to treat Paget’s disease. With this disease, the bones become soft and weak. They may also become deformed or painful, or they may break easily.

How it works

Risedronate belongs to a class of drugs called bisphosphonates. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions. 

Risedronate works by slowing the body’s natural breakdown of bone. It also increases the thickness of bone.

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risedronate Side Effects

Oral tablet

More Common Side Effects

The more common side effects of risedronate can include:

  • back pain

  • joint pain

  • pain in the abdomen (stomach area)

  • upset stomach

  • diarrhea

  • influenza (the flu)

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

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Ulcers (sores) in your esophagus (the tube that connects your throat to your stomach). Symptoms can include:

    • new or worsening heartburn
    • trouble swallowing
    • pain when swallowing
    • chest pain
    • bloody vomit
    • black or bloody stools
  • Bone death of the jaw. Symptoms can include:

    • painful or swollen gums
    • loosening of the teeth
    • numbness or heavy feeling in the jaw
    • poor healing after dental surgery or damage to the jaw
  • Broken bones. Symptoms can include:

    • dull, aching pain in the hip, groin, or thigh
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Risedronate doesn’t cause drowsiness.

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.
SECTION 3 of 5

risedronate May Interact with Other Medications

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Risedronate can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Food interactions

Take risedronate only with water. Don’t have juice, coffee, tea, milk, soda, or other drinks with this drug. These drinks can reduce the amount of risedronate your body absorbs. This can keep the drug from working well.

Also, don’t take this drug at the same time that you eat food. If you do, it can increase side effects, as well as make the drug less effective.

Alcohol interaction

The use of drinks that contain alcohol can increase your risk of certain side effects from risedronate. These include stomach upset and diarrhea. If you drink alcohol, talk to your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Interactions that can make your drugs less effective

When risedronate is used with certain drugs, it may not work as well. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Calcium supplements or antacids:
    • When these drugs are used with risedronate, the amount of risedronate in your body may be reduced. Your doctor may suggest that you take the supplement at a different time of day than when you take risedronate.
  • Drugs that lower stomach acid, including proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers.  Examples of these drugs include omeprazole, lansoprazole, esomeprazole, ranitidine, and cimetidine.
    • When these drugs are used with risedronate delayed-release tablets, they can make the drug enter your bloodstream too quickly. This may keep it from working well. To avoid this, your doctor may switch you to the regular risedronate tablet, or give you a different drug to take for stomach acid.

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.
Risedronate warnings
abnormal esophagus
People with an abnormal esophagus

If you have problems with your esophagus (the tube that connects your throat to your stomach), you shouldn’t take risedronate. These problems can include Barrett’s esophagus, stricture, or achalasia.

low calcium blood levels
People with low calcium blood levels

If you have low calcium blood levels, you should take calcium supplements before you start taking risedronate. Your doctor can tell you more.

kidney problems
People with kidney problems

If you have severe kidney problems or a history of kidney disease, you shouldn’t take risedronate. Your kidneys clear this drug from your body. If they’re not working well, high levels of this drug can build up in your body. This raises your risk of side effects.

pregnant women
Pregnant women

Risedronate is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should only be used if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

It’s not known whether risedronate passes into breast milk.

Talk to your doctor if you breast-feed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this medication.

for seniors
For seniors

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

for children
For children

This medication shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

call doctor
When to call the doctor
Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug.
allergies
Allergies

Risedronate can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue 

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

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

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How to Take risedronate (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Osteoporosis in postmenopausal women (treatment and prevention)

Generic: risedronate

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 75 mg, 150 mg
Form: Oral delayed-release tablet
Strengths: 35 mg

Brand: Actonel

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 150 mg

Brand: Atelvia

Form: Oral delayed-release tablet
Strengths: 35 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

For treatment of osteoporosis:

  • Typical dosages: Your doctor will prescribe one of the following dosages for you:
    • One 5-mg tablet daily, OR
    • One 35-mg tablet or delayed-release tablet per week, OR
    • One 75-mg tablet taken 2 days in a row, for a total of 2 tablets taken each month, OR
    • One 150-mg tablet once per month.

For prevention of osteoporosis:

  • Typical dosages: Your doctor will prescribe one of the following dosages for you:
    • One 5-mg tablet daily, OR
    • One 35-mg tablet per week, OR
    • One 75-mg tablet taken 2 days in a row, for a total of 2 tablets per month, OR
    • One 150-mg tablet once per month.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Osteoporosis in men

Generic: risedronate

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 75 mg, 150 mg

Brand: Actonel

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 150 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

Oral tablet

Typical dosage: One 35-mg tablet per week.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis

Generic: risedronate

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 75 mg, 150 mg

Brand: Actonel

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 150 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

Oral tablet

Typical dosage: One 5-mg tablet daily.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Paget’s disease

Generic: risedronate

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 75 mg, 150 mg

Brand: Actonel

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 5 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 150 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

Oral tablet

  • Typical dosage: 30 mg daily for 2 months. 

Note: In certain cases, repeating treatment with the same dosage and length of therapy may be considered. This may occur if the treatment doesn’t work the first time, or if the disease comes back. A second round of treatment should only be given at least 2 months after the first round.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

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
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Risedronate comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

If you don’t take risedronate, your condition may not be controlled. Your risk of broken bones is increased.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • upset stomach
  • heartburn
  • ulcers
  • low blood calcium, which can cause muscle cramps or confusion

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away. 

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

You will not feel any different if risedronate is working. Your doctor may do a test called a bone scan to check if the drug is working.

Risedronate is used for long-term treatment.

Don’t take risedronate with food

Food is likely to reduce the amount of risedronate your body absorbs. This can keep the drug from working well. It also raises your risk of side effects.

Take the regular and delayed-release tablets in the morning

  • Oral tablet: Take this tablet first thing in the morning, with water. Take it at least 30 minutes before your first food, drink (other than water), or medication of the day.
  • Delayed-release oral tablet: Take this tablet right after breakfast, with water. Your risk of stomach pain is higher if you don’t eat breakfast first.

Store this drug carefully

  • Store risedronate tablets or delayed-release tablets at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You shouldn’t need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Self-management

This drug can irritate your esophagus. To help avoid this:

  • Swallow each tablet of risedronate with a full glass of water. This will help make sure the drug reaches your stomach before dissolving.
  • Don’t lie down for at least 30 minutes after taking this drug. Also, don’t lie down until after your first food of the day.
  • If you’re taking the delayed-release tablets, be sure to eat breakfast before taking the drug.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor may monitor your kidney function while you take this drug. Blood tests can check how well your kidneys are working. If your kidneys aren’t working well, your doctor may have you stop taking this drug.

Hidden costs

You may need to have blood tests or a bone scan during your treatment with risedronate. The cost of these tests will depend on your insurance coverage.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

What does the pill look like?

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How Much Does risedronate Cost?

Oral tablet

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Lowest price for risedronate

Walmart $53.68
Duane Reade $94.34
Walgreens $94.34
These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for risedronate on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for risedronate on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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 November 18, 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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