• Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is etidronate, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?


  • Etidronate is in a class of drugs called bisphosphonates that is 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. The bisphosphonate class includes alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva), pamidronate (Aredia), risedronate (Actonel), and tiludronate (Skelid). 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 by osteoclasts. After menopause, there is an increased rate of bone loss leading to osteoporosis, and etidronate has been shown to increase bone density and decrease fractures of bones.
  • The FDA approved etidronate in September 1977.

What brand names are available for etidronate?


Is etidronate available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for etidronate?


What is the dosage for etidronate?


  • The recommended dose for treating adults with Paget's disease is 5-10 mg/kg daily for up to 6 months or 11 to 20/mg/kg daily for up to 3 months. The maximum dose is 20 mg/kg daily.
  • The dose for preventing heterotopic ossification after hip replacement is 20 mg/kg daily one month before and for 3 months after surgery.
  • For prevention of heterotopic ossification after spinal cord injury the dose is 20 mg/kg daily for 2 weeks then 10 mg/kg daily for 10 weeks.

Food (especially, calcium rich foods such as dairy products), antacids, vitamins with mineral supplements, and certain medications can interfere with the absorption of Didronel. Therefore, Didronel should be taken on an empty stomach 2 hours before or after eating or taking other medications.


Didronel (etidronate) is a medication prescribed for the treatment of Paget's disease and preventing heterotopic ossification. Off-label uses include the treatment of hypercalcemia associated with cancer, prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis and steroid induced osteoporosis. Side effects may include:

Drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.

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See more info: etidronate on RxList
REFERENCE: FDA Prescribing Information