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Drugs

Side Effects
Serious

No serious side effects have been reported in association with alendronate.
Common

Abdominal pain or bloating (persistent abdominal pain should be reported to your doctor), indigestion, heartburn, nausea.
Alendronate Sodium


Drug Class:
Bisphosphonate inhibitor of bone resorption

Available OTC?: No

Available Generic?: No

Fosamax 10 mg
(Merck)
Available In
Why Prescribed
How It Works
Range and Frequency
Onset of Effect
Duration of Action
Dietary Advice
Storage
Missed Dose
Stopping the Drug
Prolonged Use
Over 60
Driving and Hazardous Work
Alcohol
Pregnancy
Breast Feeding
Infants and Children
Special Concerns
Overdose Symptoms
What to Do


Available In
Tablets

Why Prescribed
To prevent and treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Alendronate also treats glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis in those receiving corticosteroids in a daily dosage equivalent to 7.5 mg or greater of prednisone and who have low bone mineral density. Also used to treat Paget's disease, a disorder characterized by rapid breakdown and reformation of bone, which can lead to fragility and malformation of bones.

How It Works
Healthy bones are continuously remodeled (broken down and then reformed); the minerals and other components of bones are reabsorbed by one set of cells (osteoclasts) and replaced by another set of cells to form new bone. Alendronate suppresses the activity of osteoclasts; consequently, the breakdown of bone tissue occurs more slowly than the laying down of new bone. This action preserves bone density and strength.

Range and Frequency
For prevention of osteoporosis: 5 mg once a day. For treatment of osteoporosis: 10 mg once a day. For glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis in men and women: 5 mg once a day; postmenopausal women not receiving estrogen should take 10 mg once a day. For Paget's disease: 40 mg once a day. The dose is taken in the morning. Swallow tablets whole; do not suck or chew them. Do not lie down for 30 minutes following your dosage. The tablet must be taken with an 8 oz glass of water at least 30 minutes before any food or other medication.

Onset of Effect
Within two hours.

Duration of Action
24 hours.

Dietary Advice
Take alendronate at least 30 minutes before your first food or beverage of the day, with a full glass of water. Some patients may be advised to take calcium or vitamin C supplements to aid in the formation of new bone tissue.

Storage
Store in a tightly sealed container away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

Missed Dose
Take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your regular dosage schedule. Do not double the next dose.

Stopping the Drug
The decision to stop taking the drug should be made by your doctor. In most cases, patients with Paget's disease are treated for six months; the drug is then stopped. Retreatment may be necessary if such patients show signs of relapse after a subsequent six-month observation period.

Prolonged Use
No special precautions.

Over 60
No special problems are expected.

Driving and Hazardous Work
Alendronate should not interfere with your ability to engage in such activities safely.

Alcohol
Alcohol should be restricted in high-risk women because it is a risk factor for osteoporosis.

Pregnancy
Alendronate is normally not used in premenopausal women. The drug should not be given to pregnant women because animal studies have shown adverse effects in the fetus.

Breast Feeding
Alendronate may pass into breast milk; caution is advised. Consult your doctor for specific advice.

Infants and Children
Use not recommended for infants and children.

Special Concerns
Patients taking alendronate are encouraged to engage in regular weight-bearing exercise and should avoid cigarettes and limit alcohol, which inhibit healthy bone production.

Overdose Symptoms
Severe heartburn, stomach cramps, or throat irritation might occur if an overdose disturbs the body's normal mineral (electrolyte) balance.

What to Do
Few alendronate overdoses have been reported. However, if someone takes a much larger dose than prescribed, call your doctor or the nearest poison control center.

Date Published: 04/13/2005
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