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Medicines for osteoporosis

Alendronate (Fosamax); Ibandronate (Boniva); Risedronate (Actonel); Zoledronic acid (Reclast); Raloxifene (Evista); Teriparatide (Forteo); Denosumab (Prolia); Low bone density - medicines; Osteoporosis - medicines

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Osteoporosis

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Description

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become brittle and more likely to fracture (break). With osteoporosis, the bones lose density. Bone density is the amount of bone tissue that is in your bones.

When are Medicines Used?

Your doctor may prescribe certain medicines to help lower your risk of fractures. These medicines make the bones in your hips, spine, and other areas less likely to break.

Your doctor may prescribe medicines when:

Bisphosphonates

Bisphosphonates are the main medicines that are used to both prevent and treat bone loss. They are most often taken by mouth. You may take a pill either once a week or once a month. You also may get bisphosphonates through a vein (IV). Most often this is done once or twice a year.

Common side effects with bisphosphonates taken by mouth are heartburn, nausea, and pain in the belly. When you take bisphosphonates:

Rare side effects are:

Your doctor may have you stop taking this medicine after about 5 years. Doing so decreases the risk of certain side effects. This is called a drug holiday.

Other Drugs for Osteoporosis

Raloxifene (Evista) may also be used to prevent and treat osteoporosis.

Denosumab (Prolia) is a medicine that prevents bones from becoming more fragile. This medicine:

Teriparatide (Forteo) is a bio-engineered form of parathyroid hormone. This medicine:

Estrogen, or hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This medicine:

Parathyroid hormone.

Calcitonin is a medicine that slows the rate of bone loss. This medicine:

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor for these symptoms or side effects:

References

Cosman F, de Beur SJ, LeBoff MS, et al. Clinician's guide to prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Osteoporos Int. 2014;25(10):2359-2381. PMID: 25182228 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25182228.

De Paula FJA, Black DM, Rosen CJ. Osteoporosis and bone biology. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 29.

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Review Date: 5/17/2018  

Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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