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Once Weekly Fosamax Tablet Effective Against Osteoporosis

Fosamax (generic name, alendronate sodium) is a drug commonly prescribed to treat osteoporosis  in post-menopausal women. Now, a new study presented at the 6th International Symposium on Clinical Disorders of Bone and Mineral Metabolism reveals that taking a 70 milligram (mg) tablet of Fosamax once a week is as effective in increasing bone mineral density as the standard dosage—one 10 mg tablet each day (70 mg per week). Since Fosamax is not effective when taken with food or if patients lie down within a half-hour of taking the drug, researchers believe a once-weekly regimen will greatly increase the convenience of treating osteoporosis in many women.

The one-year study included 1258 post-menopausal women between the ages of 40 and 90 who had osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease. At the end of the study, increases in bone mineral density measured at the spine, hip, and total body were similar between women who took 10 mg of Fosamax daily and those who took 70 mg once a week. At the hip, the average increase in bone mineral density was 3.1% for women who took Fosamax daily compared with 2.9% who took the drug weekly. Side effects of Fosamax were similar in patients on both regimens.

Like all drugs, the side effects of Fosamax vary from patient to patient. The most common effects are mild abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea or indigestion, muscle and bone pain, and nausea. Fosamax should not be taken by women with severe stomach or digestive problems, disorders of the esophagus, kidney disease, or women who are pregnant or nursing. Because food interferes with the body’s absorption of Fosamax, the drug must be taken on an empty stomach with at least six ounces of plain water.

Fosamax helps treat osteoporosis by reducing the activity of cells that cause bone loss, (osteoclasts), decreasing the rate of bone loss after menopause, and increasing the overall amount of bone in most patients. Fosamax is currently the only osteoporosis drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that reduces the frequency of spine and hip fractures. The FDA approved Fosamax (10 mg daily) in 1995 for the treatment of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women and for the treatment of Paget’s disease of the bone. In 1997, Fosamax (5 mg daily) was FDA approved to prevent osteoporosis in post-menopausal women at high risk for the disease.

Fosamax is non-hormonal drug that has been studied in more that 17,000 patients in several clinical trials. The drug is commonly prescribed to treat osteoporosis in women who do not respond well to treatment with hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  Researchers believe the once-weekly regimen of Fosamax will provide a more convenient treatment of osteoporosis for women who have busy schedules or who must take multiple medications.

Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disease that primarily affects post-menopausal women. It is estimated that one-third of women over age 50 have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis affects roughly 25 million Americans and is currently one of the most under-diagnosed and under-treated disorders in medicine.

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