Several osteoporosis medications (Fosamax and Actonel, for example) are available to help prevent and treat this condition. Estrogen therapy and hormone therapy are also treatment options, but their use is not recommended for extended periods of time. Some osteoporosis medications are better suited for certain types of people than others, and all have potential side effects.
There are a number of medicines currently approved for prevention and treatment of this condition.
These osteoporosis medications include:
- Alendronate (Fosamax®)
- Risedronate (Actonel®)
- Risedronate delayed-release (Atelvia™)
- Ibandronate (Boniva®)
- Zoledronic acid (Reclast®)
- Calcitonin (Miacalcin®, Fortical®)
- Raloxifene (Evista®)
- Estrogen therapy (ET) or hormone therapy (HT)
- Parathyroid hormone or teriparatide (Forteo®)
- Denosumab (Prolia™).
Raloxifene, risedronate, and ibandronate are approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for preventing and treating postmenopausal osteoporosis. Teriparatide is approved for treating the disease in postmenopausal women and in men at high risk for fracture.
In addition, alendronate is approved for treating osteoporosis in men, and both alendronate and risedronate are approved for use by men and women with glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis.
Alendronate (Fosamax), risedronate (Actonel), risedronate delayed-release (Atelvia), ibandronate (Boniva), and zoledronic acid (Reclast) are osteoporosis medications from the class of drugs called bisphosphonates. Like estrogen and raloxifene, these bisphosphonates are approved for both prevention and treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis.
Alendronate is also approved to treat bone loss that results from glucocorticoid medications, like prednisone or cortisone, and is approved for treating osteoporosis in men.
Risedronate is also approved to prevent and treat glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis.
Alendronate and risedronate have been shown to increase bone mass and reduce the incidence of spine, hip, and other fractures.
Ibandronate has been shown to reduce the incidence of spine fractures.
Zoledronic acid is an injectable bisphosphonate that is given by IV once every year or every other year.
Oral bisphosphonates should be taken on an empty stomach and with a full glass of water first thing in the morning. It is important to remain in an upright position and refrain from eating or drinking for at least 30 minutes after taking a bisphosphonate.
Side effects for all bisphosphonates include gastrointestinal problems, such as difficulty swallowing, inflammation of the esophagus, and gastric ulcer. There have also been rare reports of osteonecrosis of the jaw (a condition in which the bone becomes weak and dies) and of visual disturbances.