Fosamax (Alendronate) was the first widely used pill for Osteoporosis in this country. It is taken weekly on an empty stomach followed by at least 8 ounces of water. No other food or drink is allowed for at least half an hour. Fosamax is one of the Bisphosphonates and has all of the potential benefits and risks of that class. The most common problems are heartburn, GERD and esophagus and stomach issues.
Fosamax had been used widely for ten years when rare cases of Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ) and Atypical Fractures of the Femur were noticed. There is still not any conclusive evidence that Fosamax, or any other Antiresorptive or Bisphosphonate, causes these conditions.
Fosamax is an Oral Bisphosphonate and has the same safety and effectiveness issues as others in this class. Read about these issues in the sections about Antiresorptives, Bisphosphonates, and Oral Bisphosphonates.
Fosamax is usually effective for preserving bone and preventing osteoporosis in patients who can tolerate it. Remember that it only works if you take enough Calcium and Vitamin D.
Jay Ginther, MD
2008 / Revised March 2011