Alendronate is used to prevent and treat certain types of bone loss (osteoporosis) in adults. Osteoporosis causes bones to become thinner and break more easily. Your chance of developing osteoporosis increases as you age, after menopause, or if you are taking corticosteroid medications (such as prednisone) for a long time. This medication works by slowing bone loss. This effect helps maintain strong bones and reduce the risk of broken bones (fractures). Alendronate belongs to a class of drugs called bisphosphonates.
Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start taking alendronate and each time you get a refill. Follow the instructions very closely to make sure your body absorbs as much drug as possible and to reduce the risk of injury to your esophagus. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist. This medication is usually taken once per week unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Choose the day of the week that best fits your schedule and take it on that day each week. Take this medication by mouth, after getting up for the day and before taking your first food, beverage, or other medication. Take it with a full glass (6-8 ounces or 180-240 milliliters) of plain water. Swallow the tablet whole. Do not chew or suck on it. Then stay fully upright (sitting, standing, or walking) for at least 30 minutes and do not lie down until after your first food of the day. Alendronate works only if taken on an empty stomach. Wait at least 30 minutes (preferably 1 to 2 hours) after taking the medication before you eat or drink anything other than plain water. Do not take this medication at bedtime or before rising for the day. It may not be absorbed and you may have side effects. Calcium or iron supplements, vitamins, antacids, coffee, tea, soda, mineral water, calcium-enriched juices, and food can decrease the absorption of alendronate. Do not take these for at least 30 minutes (preferably 1 to 2 hours) after taking alendronate. Take this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. Remember to take it on the same day each week. It may help to mark your calendar with a reminder. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of long-term use of this medication.
Stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, gas, or nausea may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects. Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: jaw/ear pain, swelling of joints/hands/ankles/feet, increased or severe bone/joint/muscle pain, new or unusual hip/thigh/groin pain, black/tarry stools, vomit that looks like coffee grounds. This medication may rarely cause serious irritation and ulcers of the esophagus. If you notice any of the following unlikely but very serious side effects, stop taking alendronate and talk to your doctor or pharmacist right away: new or worsening heartburn, chest pain, pain or difficulty when swallowing. A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing. This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist. In the US - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch. In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets. Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
See also How to Use section. Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval. Check all prescription and nonprescription medicine labels carefully since many medications contain pain relievers/fever reducers (aspirin, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, celecoxib) that could cause stomach irritation/ulcers. However, if your doctor has directed you to take low-dose aspirin for heart attack or stroke prevention (usually at dosages of 81-325 milligrams a day), you should continue taking the aspirin unless your doctor instructs you otherwise. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center. Symptoms of overdose may include: severe stomach pain, painful heartburn, pain in the esophagus (chest pain), muscle weakness/cramps, mental/mood changes.