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- What is alendronate (Fosamax), and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for alendronate (Fosamax)?
- Is alendronate (Fosamax) available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for alendronate (Fosamax)?
- What are the uses for alendronate (Fosamax)?
- What are the side effects of alendronate (Fosamax)?
- What is the dosage for alendronate (Fosamax)?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with alendronate (Fosamax)?
- Is alendronate (Fosamax) safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about alendronate (Fosamax)?
What is alendronate (Fosamax), and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Alendronate is in a class of medications called bisphosphonates. The bisphosphonate class includes etidronate (Didronel), ibandronate (Boniva), pamidronate (Aredia), risedronate (Actonel), and tiludronate (Skelid). Bisphosphonates are used for treating osteoporosis (reduced density of bone that leads to fractures) and bone pain from diseases such as metastatic breast cancer, multiple myeloma, and Paget's disease. Bone is in a constant state of remodeling. New bone is laid down by cells called osteoblasts while old bone is removed by cells called osteoclasts. Bisphosphonates strengthen bone by inhibiting bone removal (resorption) by osteoclasts. After menopause, there is an increased rate of bone loss leading to osteoporosis, and alendronate has been shown to increase bone density and decrease fractures of bones. The FDA approved alendronate in September 1995.
What are the uses for alendronate (Fosamax)?
Alendronate is used for treating osteoporosis in men and postmenopausal women. It also is used for Paget's disease of bone and osteoporosis caused by steroid treatment. Non-FDA approved (off-label) uses include vitamin D overdose and osteoporosis caused by spinal injury.
What are the side effects of alendronate (Fosamax)?
The most common side effect of alendronate is stomach pain.,
Other important side effects are:
- black stool (due to intestinal bleeding),
- change in taste perception, and
- muscle or joint pain.
- femoral fractures
What is the dosage for alendronate (Fosamax)?
The recommended dose for treatment of osteoporosis is 5-10 mg daily or 35-70 mg weekly. Paget's disease is treated with 40 mg once daily for six months.
Since food, other medications, and vitamins can interfere with the absorption of alendronate, they should be taken at least 30 minutes before alendronate. In order to avoid chemical irritation of the esophagus (the swallowing tube that connects the mouth with the stomach), alendronate should be taken with a full glass of plain water immediately upon arising in the morning and never chewed or sucked. It should be avoided by patients with abnormalities of the esophagus which delay esophageal emptying, such as scarring (stricture) or poor motility (achalasia). Patients should also not lie down for 30 minutes after swallowing the tablets. Those patients who are unable to remain upright for at least 30 minutes after taking alendronate should not take it.
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Which drugs or supplements interact with alendronate (Fosamax)?
Calcium supplements and antacids reduce the absorption of alendronate. Therefore, alendronate should be taken at least 30 minutes before calcium and antacids.
Is alendronate (Fosamax) safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Alendronate has not been studied in pregnant women.
It is not known whether alendronate is secreted in human milk.
What else should I know about alendronate (Fosamax)?
What preparations of alendronate are available?
Tablets: 5, 10, 35, 40, 70 mg. Solution: 70 mg
How should I keep alendronate stored?
Tablets and solution should be stored at room temperature, 15 C - 30 C (59 F - 86 F) and not frozen.
Alendronate (Fosamax) is in a drug class of medications called bisphosphonates. Fosamax is prescribed for treating osteoporosis, bone pain from diseases such as breast cancer, multiple myeloma, and Paget's disease. Dosing, side effects, warnings and precautions, and safety during pregnancy should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
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Related Disease Conditions
Menopause is the time in a woman's life when menstrual periods permanently stop, also called the "change of life." Menopause symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, irregular vaginal bleeding, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, urinary incontinence, weight gain, and emotional symptoms such as mood swings. Treatment of menopausal symptoms varies, and should be discussed with your physician.
Osteopenia is a bone condition characterized by bone loss that is not as severe as in osteoporosis. Bone fracture is the typical symptom of osteopenia, though the condition may be present without symptoms. Treatment involves lifestyle modifications (quitting smoking, not drinking in excess) and ensuring an adequate intake of vitamin D and calcium.
Multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that develops in plasma cells, the white blood cells that make antibodies. Symptoms include bone pain, weakness, extreme thirst, nausea, frequent urination, and broken bones. Treatment of multiple myeloma depends upon the staging and symptoms of the disease.
Breast cancer is an invasive tumor that develops in the mammary gland. Breast cancer is detected via mammograms, breast self-examination (BSE), biopsy, and specialized testing on breast cancer tissue. Treatment of breast cancer may involve surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Breast cancer risk may be lowered by managing controllable risk factors.
Broken Bone (Types of Bone Fractures)
A broken bone is a fracture. There are different types of fractures, such as: compressed, open, stress, greenstick, spiral, vertebral compression, compound, and comminuted. Symptoms of a broken bone include pain at the site of injury, swelling, and bruising around the area of injury. Treatment of a fracture depends on the type and location of the injury.
Learn about osteoporosis, a condition characterized by the loss of bone density, which leads to an increased risk of bone fracture. Unless one experiences a fracture, a person may have osteoporosis for decades without knowing it. Treatment for osteoporosis may involve medications that stop bone loss and increase bone strength and bone formation, as well as quitting smoking, regular exercise, cutting back on alcohol intake, and eating a calcium- and vitamin D-rich balanced diet.
Paget's disease is a chronic bone disorder due to irregular breakdown and formation of bone tissue. Symptoms of Paget's disease include bone pain, headaches and hearing loss, pressure on nerves, increased head size, hip pain, and damage to cartilage of joints.
Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA or Temporal Arteritis)
Giant cell arteritis, inflammation of blood vessel walls, affects 10%-15% of polymyalgia rheumatica patients. Symptoms of giant cell arteritis include fatigue, weight loss, low-grade fever, jaw pain when chewing, scalp tenderness, and headaches. High doses of cortisone medications are used to treat giant cell arteritis.
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