Alendronate (By mouth)


Alendronate (a-LEN-droe-nate)

Prevents or treats osteoporosis in women after menopause. Treats osteoporosis in men and osteoporosis caused by steroid therapy in both men and women. This medicine is also used to treat Paget's disease of the bone.

Brand Name(s)

Fosamax, Binosto

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

Do not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to alendronate, or if you have esophagus problems, trouble swallowing, very low calcium in the blood (hypocalcemia), or severe kidney disease. Do not use this medicine if you cannot stand or sit upright for at least 30 minutes after you take the medicine.

How to Use This Medicine

Liquid, Tablet, Fizzy Tablet

  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • If any of this medicine stays in your esophagus, it may cause serious damage. To lower the risk of this problem, use this medicine exactly as directed by your doctor.
  • Take this medicine as soon as you get out of bed in the morning, before you eat or have anything to drink.
    • Tablet: Swallow the tablet whole with a full glass (6 to 8 ounces) of plain water only (not mineral water, coffee, tea, soda, juice, or any other liquid). Do not chew or suck on the tablet.
    • Oral liquid: If you use the oral liquid, drink at least 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of plain water after you take the medicine.
    • Effervescent tablet: Dissolve the effervescent tablet in 4 ounces of plain water only (not mineral water or flavored water). Wait at least 5 minutes after the bubbling stops, then stir the solution for 10 seconds and drink it.
  • Wait at least 30 minutes after you take this medicine before you eat or drink anything, take any other medicines, or lie down. This will help your body absorb the medicine.
  • Take this medicine while you are sitting or standing. Do not take it while you are in bed or at bedtime.
  • Do not lie down for at least 30 minutes after taking the medicine, and do not lie down until after you have eaten some food.
  • Measure the oral liquid medicine with a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup.
  • Carefully follow your doctor's instructions about any special diet.It is very important that you get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. You might have to take calcium and vitamin D supplements.
  • This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Ask your pharmacist for the Medication Guide if you do not have one.

If a dose is missed:

  • For patients taking the medicine each day: If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine in the morning, skip the missed dose and take your medicine the next morning. Do not take two tablets on the same day. Return to your regular schedule the next day.
  • For patients taking the medicine once a week: If you miss your regularly scheduled dose or you forget to take your medicine, wait until the next morning to take it. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose. You should never take two tablets in one day.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Protect the effervescent tablet from moisture and do not remove from the blister pack until you are ready to use it. Do not freeze.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are using aspirin or products that contain aspirin, or any type of pain or arthritis medicine (such as ibuprofen, Advil®, Aleve®, Dolobid®, Feldene®, Indocin®, Motrin®, Orudis®, Relafen®, Voltaren®).
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using medicines or receiving treatments that weaken your immune system, such as cancer treatment, radiation treatment, or steroids (such as dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, methylprednisolone, prednisolone, prednisone, Medrol®).
  • Wait at least 30 minutes after you take alendronate before you take any other oral medicines, including calcium supplements and antacids.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have kidney problems, stomach ulcers, heartburn, trouble swallowing, or any other kind of stomach or bowel problems. Tell your doctor if you have trouble absorbing minerals (malabsorption syndrome), or if you have cancer, a vitamin or mineral imbalance, or dental problems.
  • This medicine can irritate your esophagus. Stop taking this medicine and call your doctor if you have heartburn (either new or worse than usual), pain when swallowing, trouble swallowing, pain in the center of your chest, or the feeling that food gets stuck on the way to your stomach.
  • It is very important that you tell your dentist that you are taking this medicine. If you are having any dental procedures, you may have an increased risk for a severe problem with your jaw. Your dentist might want you to stop taking this medicine before the procedure. Tell your doctor or dentist right away if you have pain or soreness in your jaw.
  • This medicine may cause severe bone, joint, or muscle pain. Make sure you tell your doctor about any new pain or soreness in your bones or joints.
  • This medicine may increase your risk of developing fractures of the thigh bone. This may be more common if you use it for a long time. Check with your doctor right away if you have dull or aching pain in the thigh, groin, or hips.
  • The effervescent tablet contains sodium. Tell your doctor if you are on a salt-restricted diet, or if you have high blood pressure or heart disease.
  • Your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, red skin rash
  • Bloody, black, or tarry stools
  • Chest pain, heartburn, burning in your throat
  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches
  • Heavy jaw feeling
  • Loosening of a tooth or other tooth problems
  • Pain, swelling, or numbness in the mouth or jaw
  • Severe bone, joint, or muscle pain
  • Severe stomach pain or enlarged abdomen

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Mild stomach pain, nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, gas

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

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

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2013 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

This page was last updated: September 18, 2013

Average rating (0)