Brand names: Actonel
Actonel helps to slow the loss of calcium from bones. It belongs to a family of drugs known as bisphosphonates. It is prescribed for postmenopausal women, both to prevent osteoporosis and to strengthen the bones once the disease has begun. Actonel is also used to prevent or treat osteoporosis resulting from therapy with steroid medications, and it is used in the treatment of Paget's disease, a condition in which patches of bone become softened and enlarged.
Another version of the drug, Actonel With Calcium, is a co-packaged product containing Actonel tablets and calcium carbonate tablets. This product is also used to help prevent and treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. The mineral calcium is important for developing and maintaining strong bones and is often recommended for osteoporosis treatment.
Although it has been reported less frequently with Actonel, other similar osteoporosis drugs can be very damaging to the mouth, throat, and stomach. Do not lie down for at least 30 minutes after taking a dose of Actonel.
Three types of Actonel are available: a 5-milligram and 30-milligram tablet that can be taken daily, and a 35-milligram tablet that's taken once a week. The tablets should be taken at least 30 minutes before the first food or drink of the day other than water. Take the pill while standing or sitting in an upright position and wash it down with a full 6 to 8 ounce glass of plain water (do not use coffee, tea, mineral water, juice, milk, or other dairy products). Swallow the tablet whole; do not chew or suck on it. Do not lie down for 30 minutes after taking the medication.
Actonel With Calcium comes packaged with four 7-day treatment cycles. Each weekly cycle consists of one 35-milligram Actonel tablet and six calcium tablets. For each 7-day cycle, take one Actonel tablet on Day 1, following the instructions above. Then on the remaining six days of the week (Days 2 through 7), take one calcium tablet each day. An important note: The calcium tablets may interfere with the absorption of Actonel and should not be taken at the same time as the Actonel tablets. Always take the calcium tablets on the six days of the week that you do not take the Actonel tablets.
If you use any other medications or supplements containing calcium, aluminum, or magnesium, avoid taking them at the same time as Actonel. This timing is very important in getting the maximum amount of medication from each dose. Food, beverages, supplements, and other medications can greatly interfere with the absorption of Actonel.
If you forget to take a weekly dose, take 1 Actonel tablet on the morning after you remember, then return to taking 1 Actonel tablet a week as originally scheduled on the chosen day. Never take 2 tablets on the same day.
Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking Actonel.
Your doctor will not prescribe Actonel if you have low calcium levels in your blood or the drug gives you an allergic reaction. You also cannot take Actonel if you are unable to stand or sit upright for at least 30 minutes after taking the drug. In addition, the drug is not recommended for people with severe kidney disease.
The drugs in Actonel's family have been known to cause problems in the canal between the mouth and the stomach (the esophagus). Among the disorders that have been reported are esophageal irritation, difficulty swallowing, esophageal ulcers, and gastric ulcers. You can guard against such problems by taking the medication with plenty of water, swallowing the pill while standing or sitting upright, and remaining upright for 30 minutes afterwards. If you experience difficulty or pain on swallowing, chest pain, or heartburn that is severe or worse than usual, stop taking Actonel and check with your doctor immediately.
Arthritis of the joints (primarily in the jaw) has been reported in patients taking Actonel. If you experience jaw pain, contact your doctor or dentist.
Actonel may cause bone, joint, and/or muscle pain. If you develop these symptoms, talk to your doctor. Most pain stops when the drug is discontinued, but don't stop taking it without consulting your doctor first.
If Actonel is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Actonel with the following:AntacidsCalcium supplementsLaxatives such as magnesium hydroxide
Calcium tablets such as those found in Actonel With Calcium may interfere with or be affected by the following:Antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin and tetracyclineIron supplementsOsteoporosis drugs known as bisphosphonates, such as ActonelSteroid medicationsThiazide diureticsThyroid hormones
Actonel has caused harm when tested on pregnant animals. It is not recommended during human pregnancy unless its benefits are judged to outweigh the potential risks. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, notify your doctor immediately.
If you are nursing a baby, you'll need to choose between discontinuing nursing or discontinuing the drug.
For the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, the recommended dose is one 5-milligram tablet once daily or one 35-milligram tablet once a week. If you are taking Actonel With Calcium, the dose is one 35-milligram tablet taken once a week, and one calcium tablet taken each of the remaining six days of the week.
For treatment or prevention of steroid-induced osteoporosis, the recommended dose is one 5-milligram tablet once a day.
The recommended dose for Paget's disease is 30 milligrams once a day for two months. A second 2-month course of therapy may be required in certain individuals.
A large overdose of Actonel can dramatically reduce calcium levels in the blood. Warning signs include a tingling sensation and spasms. If you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately.