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Drugs reference index «alendronate»

alendronate (Oral route)


Commonly used brand name(s):

In the U.S.

  • Fosamax

Available Dosage Forms:

  • Tablet
  • Solution

Therapeutic Class: Calcium Regulator

Chemical Class: Bisphosphonate

Uses For alendronate

Alendronate is used to prevent or treat osteoporosis (thinning of the bone) in women after menopause and to treat osteoporosis in men. It may also be used to treat Paget's disease of the bone and osteoporosis (thinning of the bone) caused by steroid (glucocorticoid) treatment .

Alendronate is available only with your doctor's prescription .

Importance of Diet

Make certain your health care professional knows if you are on any special diet, such as a low-sodium or low-sugar diet. Your doctor may recommend that you eat a balanced diet with an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D, which can be found in milk or other dairy products .

Before Using alendronate

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For alendronate, the following should be considered:


Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to alendronate or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.


Studies on the relationship of age to the effects of alendronate in the pediatric population have not shown different effects in children and in adult patients. However, alendronate is not recommended for use in this age group .


alendronate has been tested and has not been shown to cause different side effects or problems in older people than it does in younger adults. However, elderly patients are usually more sensitive to the effects of alendronate .


Pregnancy CategoryExplanation
All TrimestersCAnimal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women OR no animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women.

Breast Feeding

There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.

Interactions with Medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Using alendronate with any of the following may cause an increased risk of certain side effects but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use alendronate, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.

  • Dairy Food

Other Medical Problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of alendronate. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Anemia or
  • Blood clotting problems or
  • Cancer or
  • Dental problems or
  • Infection or
  • Poor oral hygiene or
  • Tooth extraction or any dental surgery—May increase the risk of having serious side effects .
  • Digestion problems or
  • Intestine problems or
  • Stomach problems or
  • Vitamin D deficiency—May make these conditions worse .
  • Esophagus problems or
  • Kidney problems, severe or
  • Low calcium in the blood or
  • Trouble with swallowing or
  • Unable to stand or sit upright for at least 30 minutes—Should NOT be given to patients with these conditions .

Proper Use of alendronate

Read and follow the instructions on the patient package insert carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions .

Take the alendronate tablet with a full glass (6 to 8 ounces) of plain water on an empty stomach. It should be taken as soon as you get out of bed in the morning and at least 30 minutes before any food, beverage, or other medicines. Food and beverages, such as mineral water, coffee, tea, or juice, will decrease the amount of alendronate absorbed by the body. Waiting longer than 30 minutes will allow more of the drug to be absorbed. Medicines such as antacids, calcium, or vitamin supplements will also decrease the absorption of alendronate .

If you are using alendronate oral solution, drink at least 2 ounces (a quarter of a cup) of water immediately after taking the medicine. This will allow the medicine to reach your intestines and be absorbed by the body more quickly .

Do not lie down for at least 30 minutes after taking alendronate and before having your first food for the day. This will help alendronate reach your stomach faster. It will also help prevent irritation to your esophagus .

Do not take alendronate at bedtime or before getting up for the day .

Swallow the tablet whole. Do not crush, break, chew, or suck it .


The dose of alendronate will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of alendronate. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For oral dosage forms (tablet and oral solution):
    • For treatment of Paget's disease of bone:
      • Adults—40 milligrams (mg) once a day for six months. Your doctor may repeat the treatment if necessary .
    • For treatment of osteoporosis in men:
      • Adults—10 milligrams (mg) once a day or 70 mg once a week .
    • For treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis:
      • Adults—10 milligrams (mg) once a day or 70 mg once a week .
    • For prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis:
      • Adults—5 milligrams (mg) once a day or 35 mg once a week .
    • For treatment of osteoporosis caused by glucocorticoid treatment:
      • Adults—5 milligrams (mg) once a day. In postmenopausal women not receiving estrogen, the dose is 10 mg once a day .

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of alendronate, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.


Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Precautions While Using alendronate

If you will be taking alendronate for a long time, it is very important that your doctor check you at regular visits for any problems or unwanted effects that may be caused by alendronate .

It is important that you tell all of your health care providers that you are taking alendronate. If you are having a dental procedure while taking alendronate, you may have an increased chance of having a severe problem with your jaw .

Make sure you tell your doctor about any new medical problems, especially with your teeth or jaws. Tell your doctor if you have severe bone, joint, or muscle pain while using alendronate .

While you are taking alendronate, be careful to limit the amount of alcohol you drink, or the number of cigarettes you smoke .

Stop using alendronate and call your doctor immediately if you start having difficulty with swallowing, pain on swallowing food or fluids, pain behind your breast bone, or severe heartburn .

alendronate Side Effects

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

More common
  • Abdominal pain
Less common
  • Difficulty with swallowing
  • heartburn
  • irritation or pain of the esophagus
  • muscle pain
  • Skin rash
Incidence not determined
  • Bone, joint, and/or muscle pain, severe and occasionally incapacitating
  • heavy jaw feeling
  • loosening of a tooth
  • pain, swelling, or numbness in the mouth or jaw

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

Less common
  • Constipation
  • diarrhea
  • full or bloated feeling
  • gas
  • headache
  • nausea

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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  • Alendronate Prescribing Information (FDA)
  • Alendronate MedFacts Consumer Leaflet (Wolters Kluwer)
  • Fosamax Prescribing Information (FDA)
  • Fosamax Detailed Consumer Information (PDR)
  • Fosamax Consumer Overview

See Also...

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