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Alendronate Sodium Oral tablet

It helps to make normal healthy bone and to slow bone loss in people with Paget's disease and osteop... more

Generic Name: alendronate

Brand Names: Binosto, Fosamax

There is an FDA Alert for this drug. Click here to view it.

Special Alerts:

[Posted 07/21/2011] ISSUE: FDA notified healthcare professionals and patients about its ongoing review of data from published studies to evaluate whether use of oral bisphosphonate drugs is associated with an increased risk of cancer of the esophagus. FDA has not concluded that taking an oral bisphosphonate drug increases the risk of esophageal cancer. There are insufficient data to recommend endoscopic screening of asymptomatic patients. FDA will continue to evaluate all available data supporting the safety and effectiveness of bisphosphonate drugs and will update the public when more information becomes available.

BACKGROUND: Oral bisphosphonates are commonly used for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis as well as to treat other bone diseases such as Paget’s disease. There have been conflicting findings from studies evaluating the risk of esophageal cancer. Esophagitis and other esophageal events have been reported, particularly in patients who do not follow the specific directions for use of oral bisphosphonates. See the Data Summary in the Drug Safety Communication for additional details at: [Web].

RECOMMENDATION: Patients should talk with their healthcare professional about the benefits and risks of taking oral bisphosphonates and how long they should expect to take them. Patients should talk with their healthcare professional if they develop swallowing difficulties, chest pain, new or worsening heartburn, or have trouble or pain when swallowing. Patients should be instructed to carefully follow the directions for use of the oral bisphosphonate drug they are prescribed. For more information visit the FDA website at: [Web] and [Web].

[Posted 10/13/2010] ISSUE: FDA is updating the public regarding information previously communicated describing the risk of atypical fractures of the thigh, known as subtrochanteric and diaphyseal femur fractures, in patients who take bisphosphonates for osteoporosis. This information will be added to the Warnings and Precautions section of the labels approved to treat osteoporosis, including alendronate (Fosamax), alendronate with cholecalciferol (Fosamax Plus D), risedronate (Actonel and Atelvia), risedronate with calcium carbonate (Actonel with Calcium), ibandronate (Boniva), tiludronate (Skelid), and zoledronic acid (Reclast) and their generic products. A Medication Guide will also be required to be given to patients when they pick up their bisphosphonate prescription.

BACKGROUND: Atypical subtrochanteric femur fractures are fractures in the bone just below the hip joint. Diaphyseal femur fractures occur in the long part of the thigh bone. These fractures are very uncommon and appear to account for less than 1% of all hip and femur fractures overall. Although it is not clear if bisphosphonates are the cause, these unusual femur fractures have been predominantly reported in patients taking bisphosphonates.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Patients should continue to take their medication unless told to stop by their healthcare professional. FDA recommends that healthcare professionals should discontinue potent antiresorptive medications (including bisphosphonates) in patients who have evidence of a femoral shaft fracture. For more information visit the FDA website at: [Web] and [Web].

[Posted 03/11/2010] FDA notified healthcare professionals and patients that at this point, the data that FDA has reviewed have not shown a clear connection between bisphosphonate use and a risk of atypical subtrochanteric femur fractures. FDA is working with outside experts, including members of the recently convened American Society of Bone and Mineral Research Subtrochanteric Femoral Fracture Task Force, to gather more information and evaluate the issue further.

FDA recommends that healthcare professionals follow the recommendations in the drug label when prescribing oral bisphosphonates.

Patients should continue taking oral bisphosphonates unless told by their healthcare professional to stop. Patients should talk to their healthcare professional if they develop new hip or thigh pain or have any concerns with their medications. For more information visit the FDA website at: [Web] and [Web].

[Posted 11/12/2008] FDA issued an update to the Agency’s review of safety data regarding the potential increased risk of atrial fibrillation in patients treated with a bisphosphonate drug. Bisphosphonates are a class of drugs used primarily to increase bone mass and reduce the risk for fracture in patients with osteoporosis, slow bone turnover in patients with Paget’s disease of the bone, and to treat bone metastases and lower elevated levels of blood calcium in patients with cancer. FDA reviewed data on 19,687 bisphosphonate-treated patients and 18,358 placebo-treated patients who were followed for 6 months to 3 years. The occurrence of atrial fibrillation was rare within each study, with most studies containing 2 or fewer events. Across all studies, no clear association between overall bisphosphonate exposure and the rate of serious or non-serious atrial fibrillation was observed. Additionally, increasing dose or duration of bisphosphonate therapy was not associated with an increase rate of atrial fibrillation. Healthcare professionals should not alter their prescribing patterns for bisphosphonates and patients should not stop taking their bisphosphonate medication. For more information visit the FDA website at: [Web], and [Web].

REMS:

FDA approved a REMS for alendronate to ensure that the benefits of a drug outweigh the risks. However, FDA later rescinded REMS requirements. See the FDA REMS page ([Web]) or the ASHP REMS Resource Center ([Web]).

What is this medicine?

ALENDRONATE (a LEN droe nate) slows calcium loss from bones. It helps to make normal healthy bone and to slow bone loss in people with Paget's disease and osteoporosis. It may be used in others at risk for bone loss.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
  • dental disease
  • esophagus, stomach, or intestine problems, like acid reflux or GERD
  • kidney disease
  • low blood calcium
  • low vitamin D
  • problems sitting or standing 30 minutes
  • trouble swallowing
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to alendronate, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

You must take this medicine exactly as directed or you will lower the amount of the medicine you absorb into your body or you may cause yourself harm. Take this medicine by mouth first thing in the morning, after you are up for the day. Do not eat or drink anything before you take your medicine. Swallow the tablet with a full glass (6 to 8 fluid ounces) of plain water. Do not take this medicine with any other drink. Do not chew or crush the tablet. After taking this medicine, do not eat breakfast, drink, or take any medicines or vitamins for at least 30 minutes. Sit or stand up for at least 30 minutes after you take this medicine; do not lie down. Do not take your medicine more often than directed.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, do not take it later in the day. Continue your normal schedule starting the next morning. Do not take double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medicine?

  • aluminum hydroxide
  • antacids
  • aspirin
  • calcium supplements
  • drugs for inflammation like ibuprofen, naproxen, and others
  • iron supplements
  • magnesium supplements
  • vitamins with minerals

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Visit your doctor or health care professional for regular checks ups. It may be some time before you see benefit from this medicine. Do not stop taking your medicine except on your doctor's advice. Your doctor or health care professional may order blood tests and other tests to see how you are doing.

You should make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D while you are taking this medicine, unless your doctor tells you not to. Discuss the foods you eat and the vitamins you take with your health care professional.

Some people who take this medicine have severe bone, joint, and/or muscle pain. This medicine may also increase your risk for a broken thigh bone. Tell your doctor right away if you have pain in your upper leg or groin. Tell your doctor if you have any pain that does not go away or that gets worse.

This medicine can make you more sensitive to the sun. If you get a rash while taking this medicine, sunlight may cause the rash to get worse. Keep out of the sun. If you cannot avoid being in the sun, wear protective clothing and use sunscreen. Do not use sun lamps or tanning beds/booths.


Last Updated: June 15, 2012
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