Bisphosphonates are by far the most common and best known Antiresorptive medications for osteoporosis. Over 90% of persons taking Osteoporosis medication are taking Bisphosphonates. You can take them as pills or intravenous injections.
Oral Bisphosphonates are pills that are taken weekly or monthly. Generic Alendronate has become the most commonly prescribed. Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva are the others in this group. They all can cause heartburn, GERD or other problems with the esophagus and stomach.
IV Bisphosphonates are used to avoid heartburn, GERD and other problems with the esophagus and stomach. They are shots into a vein (IntraVenous) given once every 3, 6, or 12 months. Because of higher doses given less often, your kidneys need to be checked for normal function before each dose.
Bisphosphonates are usually effective for preserving bone which has not yet fractured and for preventing osteoporosis. They are now generally used for about 5 years. Then we consider a “Drug Holiday”. Remember that none of these medications can work without enough Calcium and Vitamin D.
Jay Ginther, MD
2008 / Revised Feb 2011