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alendronate Images

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]).

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