Alendronate: Reducing the risk of bone fractures
This website is about the bone medication alendronate. Alendronate can increase bone mineral density and counteract the disease osteoporosis. Your doctor might prescribe it for osteoporosis or osteopenia. The chemical name is alendronate sodium indicating the drug is formulated as the sodium salt of alendronic acid.
Alendronate is one of the most widely used drugs today. Millions of people have used it and doctors continue to prescribe it even though there are many other osteoporosis drugs on the market.
The drug is available on the market as 5 mg, 10 mg, 35 mg, 40 mg, 70 mg pills. The most common ones taken by osteoporosis patients are 10 mg (taken every day) and 70 mg (once a week). Osteopenia patients are sometimes prescribed lower doses. The FDA recently approved effervescent 70 mg tablets.
Alendronate is classified as a bisphosponate drug. Like other medications in this class, alendronate inhibits bone resorption via action on osteoclasts or on osteoclast precursors, Osteoclasts are the bone cells that break down bony material. Alendronate lowers the rate of bone resorption into the bodily fluids.
Its Chemical Abstract Service designation (CAS Number) is 41575-94-4. The broader category of osteoporosis drugs is antiresorptive drugs that slow the "resorption" of minerals out of the bone and into the bloodstream. Other antiresorptives include SERMs (selective estrogen-receptor modulators) and calcintonin.
For more about treatment of osteoporosis with alendronate, click here.
Osteoporosis is a disorder of the skeletal system defined as a level of bone strength below normal that places a person at-risk for bone fractures. Bone strength is characterized by a combination of two bone properties: (1) density, which reflects grams of bone minerals per cubic centimeter, and (2) quality, which reflects how well a bone can withstand fracture. However, a lone measure of bone density is often used for the clinical determination of a person’s overall bone strength. The exact range of bone density considered to be abnormal has varied over the years, but the World Health Organization currently defines it as 2.5 standard deviations or more below the average level in young, healthy adults.
There are two types of osteoporosis: primary and secondary. Primary osteoporosis is caused by the reduction in estrogen that occurs in a woman’s body after menopause (type I) or by age-related changes in the rate of bone building that occur in both men and women as they grow older (type II). Secondary osteoporosis is caused by certain medical conditions and treatments, as well as by unhealthy behaviors.
In 2012 the FDA approved Binosto, an effervescent form of alendronate. It tastes better and is easier to take than alendronate in pill form. The patient drops the tablet into water and a bubbly drink forms (similar to Alka Selzer). Flavorings in Binosto mimic the taste of strawberry softdrinks, and the dosage is 70 mg, which is commonly prescribed for people who take alendronate once a week.
The idea is that this form of the drug should be easier to take and will be less likely to result in irritation of the throat and digestive system. Like Alka Selzer, Binosto is buffered to reduce the chances of upsetting the stomach.
New! There is new science suggesting alendronate improves survival chances in people who have had breast cancer.