1. Risedronate is available as brand-name drugs and as generic drugs. Brand names: Actonel, Atelvia.
  2. Risedronate comes in two forms: immediate-release tablet and delayed-release tablet. Both forms are taken by mouth.
  3. Risedronate is used to prevent or treat osteoporosis. It’s also used to treat Paget’s disease of bone.

  • Sores in the esophagus warning: Risedronate may cause ulcers (sores) in the esophagus. These can be severe. Your doctor may monitor you for signs of these problems. These signs can include trouble swallowing, pain when swallowing, chest pain, or frequent heartburn.
  • Muscle and bone pain warning: Risedronate can cause severe bone, joint, or muscle pain. If you have these symptoms, stop taking this drug and call your doctor.
  • Bone death of the jaw warning: Risedronate can cause poor blood supply to the jaw. This may lead to osteonecrosis (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 warning: 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.

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

Risedronate is available as the brand-name drugs Actonel (immediate-release tablet) or Atelvia (delayed-release tablet). Both tablets are also available as generic drugs. Generic drugs usually cost less than the brand-name version. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name drug.

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 strengthen your bones 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 of bone. 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.

Risedronate oral tablet doesn’t cause drowsiness, but it can cause other side effects.

More common side effects

The more common side effects of risedronate can include:

  • back pain
  • joint pain
  • pain in your 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 911 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. 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

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.

Risedronate oral tablet 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.

Examples of drugs that can cause interactions with risedronate are listed below.

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.
  • Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
    • When these drugs are used with risedronate, they can increase your risk of nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and constipation.

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.

This drug comes with several warnings.

Allergy warning

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

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue

If you develop these symptoms, call 911 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).

Food interactions warning

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 warning

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.

Warnings for people with certain health conditions

For people with an abnormal esophagus: If you have problems with your esophagus, you shouldn’t take risedronate. These problems can include Barrett’s esophagus, stricture, or achalasia.

For 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.

For 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.

Warnings for other groups

For 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.

If you become pregnant while taking this drug, call your doctor right away.

For women who are breastfeeding: It’s not known whether risedronate passes into breast milk. Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.

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, a higher amount of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

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

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

Dosage for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women (treatment and prevention)

Generic: Risedronate

  • Form: oral immediate-release tablet
  • Strengths: 5 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 75 mg, 150 mg
  • Form: oral delayed-release tablet
  • Strength: 35 mg

Brand: Actonel

  • Form: oral immediate-release tablet
  • Strengths: 5 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 150 mg

Brand: Atelvia

  • Form: oral delayed-release tablet
  • Strength: 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 immediate-release tablet daily, OR
    • one 35-mg immediate-release tablet or delayed-release tablet per week, OR
    • one 75-mg immediate-release tablet taken 2 days in a row, for a total of 2 tablets taken each month, OR
    • one 150-mg immediate-release tablet once per month.

For prevention of osteoporosis:

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

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication shouldn’t be used in children 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, a higher amount 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 dosage or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Dosage for osteoporosis in men

Generic: Risedronate

  • Form: oral immediate-release tablet
  • Strengths: 5 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 75 mg, 150 mg

Brand: Actonel

  • Form: oral immediate-release tablet
  • Strengths: 5 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 150 mg

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

The typical dosage is one 35-mg tablet per week.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication shouldn’t be used in children 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, a higher amount 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 dosage or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Dosage for glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis

Generic: Risedronate

  • Form: oral immediate-release tablet
  • Strengths: 5 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 75 mg, 150 mg

Brand: Actonel

  • Form: oral immediate-release tablet
  • Strengths: 5 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 150 mg

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

The typical dosage is one 5-mg tablet daily.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication shouldn’t be used in children 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, a higher amount 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 dosage or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Dosage for Paget’s disease of bone

Generic: Risedronate

  • Form: oral immediate-release tablet
  • Strengths: 5 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 75 mg, 150 mg

Brand: Actonel

  • Form: oral immediate-release tablet
  • Strengths: 5 mg, 30 mg, 35 mg, 150 mg

Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

The typical dosage is 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 children 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, a higher amount 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 dosage 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 speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.

Risedronate oral tablet is used for long-term treatment. It 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 911 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.

Keep these considerations in mind if your doctor prescribes risedronate for you.

General

  • Don’t crush or cut the immediate-release or delayed-release tablets.

Storage

  • Store risedronate 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.

Refills

A prescription for this medication is refillable. You should not 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 harm your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled container 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

  • Take risedronate tablets in the morning.
    • Immediate-release 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 tablet: Take this tablet right after breakfast, with water. Your risk of stomach pain is higher if you don’t eat breakfast first.
  • 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.
  • 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 risedronate only with water. Don’t have any other drinks with this drug. Other drinks can reduce the amount of risedronate your body absorbs. This can keep the drug from working well.

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.

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.

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.