Actonel is a prescription drug used to:
- treat and prevent osteoporosis in female adults* who’ve gone through menopause
- increase bone mass in male adults* with osteoporosis
- treat and prevent osteoporosis caused by glucocorticoid drugs in adults
- treat Paget’s disease of bone in adults
The active ingredient in Actonel is risedronate. An active ingredient is what makes a drug work. Actonel comes as a tablet that you swallow. It belongs to a class of drugs known as bisphosphonates.
This article describes the dosages of Actonel, as well as its strengths and how to take it. To learn more about Actonel, see this in-depth article.
Note: This article covers Actonel’s usual dosages, which are provided by the drug’s manufacturer. But when taking Actonel, always follow the dosing instructions that your doctor prescribes.
* In this article, we use the terms “male” and “female” to refer to someone’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.
This section covers common dosage information for Actonel. Before you begin Actonel treatment, your doctor will go over a dosing schedule that’s specific to your condition.
What is the form of Actonel?
Actonel comes as a tablet that you swallow.
What strengths does Actonel come in?
Actonel comes in five strengths:
- 5 milligrams (mg)
- 30 mg
- 35 mg
- 75 mg
- 150 mg
What are the usual dosages of Actonel?
The dosage of Actonel that your doctor prescribes depends on your condition.
The information below describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. But be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. They’ll determine the best dosage to fit your needs.
Note: Actonel is prescribed for adults only. It’s not used in children.
Dosage for preventing or treating osteoporosis in females after menopause
There are several Actonel dosage options for osteoporosis prevention or treatment in females* who have gone through menopause. These dosage options, which are listed below, range from daily to monthly dosages:
- one 5-mg tablet taken once per day
- one 35-mg tablet taken once per week
- one 75-mg tablet taken on 2 consecutive days for a total of two tablets per month
- one 150-mg tablet taken once per month
The dosage you’ll take may depend on personal preference and other factors. For example, if you have insurance, your insurance plan might only cover certain dosages. Your doctor will discuss with you the best dosage option for your condition.
* In this article, we use the term “female” to refer to someone’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.
Dosage for preventing or treating osteoporosis due to glucocorticoid use
The Actonel dosage for preventing or treating osteoporosis caused by glucocorticoid drugs is one 5-mg tablet taken once per day.
Dosage for treating osteoporosis in males
For treating osteoporosis in males,* Actonel’s dosage is one 35-mg tablet taken once per week.
* In this article, we use the term “male” to refer to someone’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.
Dosage for Paget’s disease of bone
The Actonel dose for Paget’s disease of bone is one 30-mg tablet taken once per day for 2 months.
Is Actonel used long term?
Actonel is usually used long term for preventing or treating osteoporosis. If you’re using Actonel for this purpose, and you and your doctor determine that Actonel is safe and effective for your condition, you’ll likely take it long term.
If you’re taking Actonel to treat Paget’s disease of bone, you’ll take the drug for 2 months.
The dosage of Actonel you’re prescribed may depend on several factors. These include:
- the type and severity of the condition you’re using the drug to treat
- your age
- other conditions you may have
Note: If you have severe kidney problems, your doctor will likely not prescribe Actonel for your condition. They can discuss other treatment options with you.
Actonel comes as a tablet you’ll swallow. To help the drug work properly and prevent side effects, follow these instructions:
- Take Actonel on an empty stomach after you wake up.
- Swallow the tablet with a full glass of plain water while sitting up or standing. Do not take it with other beverages, including mineral water.
- Wait 30 minutes before doing any of the following:
- lying down
- eating or drinking anything other than plain water
- taking any medications, vitamins, or supplements
If you have trouble swallowing tablets, these tips may help. Your doctor or pharmacist may also have suggestions for making Actonel easier to take. And they can discuss with you the instructions above if you have questions.
For information on the expiration, storage, and disposal of Actonel, see this article.
Accessible drug containers and labels
If you find it hard to read the prescription label on your medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Some pharmacies provide medication labels that:
- have large print or use braille
- feature a code you can scan with a smartphone to change the text to audio
Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend pharmacies that offer these accessibility features if your current pharmacy does not.
If you have trouble opening medication bottles, let your pharmacist know. They may be able to supply Actonel in an easy-open container or suggest a form of Actonel that comes in a blister pack. They may also have tips to help make it simpler to open the drug’s container.
If you miss a dose of Actonel, when to take it depends on your prescribed dosage. Below is the manufacturer’s recommendation on when to take a missed dose. For more information about missed Actonel doses and adjusting your dosing schedule, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
If you need help remembering to take your dose of Actonel on time, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or downloading a reminder app on your phone.
5 mg or 30 mg once per day
If you forget to take your 5-milligram (mg) or 30-mg daily dose of Actonel in the morning, do not take it later in the day. Skip the missed dose and return to your usual schedule the next morning. Do not double up on doses to make up for the missed dose.
35 mg once per week
If you forget to take your 35-mg weekly dose of Actonel, take a dose the morning after you remember. Then take your next dose on the day it’s usually scheduled. Do not double up on doses to make up for the missed dose.
75 mg twice per month
If your dosage is 75 mg of Actonel twice per month, and you forget to take the drug, when to take it depends on:
- whether you missed one or both doses, and
- how much time has passed since you remembered the missed dose(s)
For instructions on resuming your Actonel dosing schedule, contact your doctor.
150 mg once per month
If you forget to take your 150-milligram (mg) monthly dose of Actonel, and your next scheduled dose is more than 7 days away, take a dose the morning after you remember. Then take your next dose on the day it’s usually scheduled.
If you remember the missed dose within 7 days of when your next dose is scheduled, wait to take a dose at the regularly scheduled time.
Do not double up on doses to make up for the missed dose.
Symptoms of overdose
Symptoms of decreased levels of calcium and phosphorus include:
What to do in case you take too much Actonel
Call your doctor right away if you think you’ve taken too much Actonel. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers or use its online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately or go to the nearest emergency room.
The sections above describe the usual Actonel dosages provided by the drug’s manufacturer. If your doctor recommends Actonel for you, they’ll prescribe the dosage that’s right for you.
Remember, you should not change your dosage of Actonel without your doctor’s recommendation. Only take Actonel exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your current dosage.
Here are some examples of questions you may want to ask your doctor:
- Will my dosage of Actonel change if I’m taking other drugs with it?
- Will I have different side effects if I switch from the daily dose to the weekly dose of Actonel?
- Will my dosage of Actonel change if the drug is not working well enough for me?
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 another 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.