Alendronate Sodium: Package Insert and Label Information (Page 2 of 5)

6.2 Post-Marketing Experience

The following adverse reactions have been identified during post-approval use of alendronate sodium. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.

Body as a Whole: hypersensitivity reactions including urticaria and angioedema. Transient symptoms of myalgia, malaise, asthenia and fever have been reported with alendronate sodium, typically in association with initiation of treatment. Symptomatic hypocalcemia has occurred, generally in association with predisposing conditions. Peripheral edema.

Gastrointestinal: esophagitis, esophageal erosions, esophageal ulcers, esophageal stricture or perforation, and oropharyngeal ulceration. Gastric or duodenal ulcers, some severe and with complications, have also been reported [see Dosage and Administration (2.6); Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].

Localized osteonecrosis of the jaw, generally associated with tooth extraction and/or local infection with delayed healing, has been reported [see Warnings and Precautions (5.4)].

Musculoskeletal: bone, joint, and/or muscle pain, occasionally severe, and incapacitating [see Warningsand Precautions (5.3)]; joint swelling; low-energy femoral shaft and subtrochanteric fractures [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5)].

Nervous System: dizziness and vertigo.

Pulmonary: acute asthma exacerbations.

Skin: rash (occasionally with photosensitivity), pruritus, alopecia, severe skin reactions, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis.

Special Senses: uveitis, scleritis or episcleritis. Cholesteatoma of the external auditory canal (focal osteonecrosis).


7.1 Calcium Supplements/Antacids

Co-administration of alendronate sodium and calcium, antacids, or oral medications containing multivalent cations will interfere with absorption of alendronate. Therefore, instruct patients to wait at least one-half hour after taking alendronate before taking any other oral medications.

7.2 Aspirin

In clinical studies, the incidence of upper gastrointestinal adverse events was increased in patients receiving concomitant therapy with daily doses of alendronate greater than 10 mg and aspirin-containing products.

7.3 Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Alendronate may be administered to patients taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In a 3-year, controlled, clinical study (n=2027) during which a majority of patients received concomitant NSAIDs, the incidence of upper gastrointestinal adverse events was similar in patients taking alendronate 5 or 10 mg/day compared to those taking placebo. However, since NSAID use is associated with gastrointestinal irritation, caution should be used during concomitant use with alendronate.


8.1 Pregnancy

Risk Summary:

Available data on the use of alendronate in pregnant women are insufficient to inform a drug-associated risk of adverse maternal or fetal outcomes. Discontinue alendronate when pregnancy is recognized.

In animal reproduction studies, daily oral administration of alendronate to rats from before mating through the end of gestation or lactation showed decreased postimplantation survival and decreased pup body weight gain starting at doses equivalent to less than half of the highest recommended 40 mg clinical daily dose (based on body surface area, mg/m2). Oral administration of alendronate to rats during organogenesis resulted in reduced fetal ossification starting at doses 3 times the 40 mg clinical daily dose. No similar fetal effects were observed in pregnant rabbits dosed orally during organogenesis at doses equivalent to approximately 10 times the 40 mg clinical daily dose.

Delayed or failed delivery of offspring, protracted parturition, and late pregnancy maternal and fetal deaths due to maternal hypocalcemia occurred in rats at oral doses as low as one tenth the 40 mg clinical daily dose (see Data).

Bisphosphonates are incorporated into the bone matrix, from which they are gradually released over a period of years. The amount of bisphosphonate incorporated into adult bone and available for release into the systemic circulation is directly related to the dose and duration of bisphosphonate use. Consequently, based on the mechanism of action of bisphosphonates, there is a potential risk of fetal harm, predominantly skeletal, if a woman becomes pregnant after completing a course of bisphosphonate therapy. The impact of variables such as time between cessation of bisphosphonate therapy to conception, the particular bisphosphonate used, and the route of administration (intravenous versus oral) on the risk has not been studied.

The estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage for the indicated population(s) is unknown. All pregnancies have a background risk of birth defects, loss, or other adverse outcomes. In the U.S. general population, the estimated background risks of major birth defects and miscarriage in clinically recognized pregnancies is 2-4% and 15-20%, respectively.


Animal Data: Reproduction studies in rats dosed orally from before mating to the end of gestation or lactation showed decreased postimplantation survival starting at 2 mg/kg/day and decreased body weight gain starting at 1 mg/kg/day, doses equivalent to less than half the 40 mg clinical daily dose based on body surface area, mg/m2. Incidence of incomplete fetal ossification in vertebral, skull, and sternebral bones were increased in rats dosed orally during organogenesis starting at 10 mg/kg/day (approximately 3 times the 40 mg clinical daily dose). No similar fetal effects were observed in pregnant rabbits dosed orally during organogenesis at up to 35 mg/kg/day (equivalent to approximately 10 times the 40 mg clinical daily dose).

Both total and ionized calcium decreased in pregnant rats dosed orally with 15 mg/kg/day alendronate (approximately 4 times the 40 mg clinical daily dose) resulting in delays and failures of delivery. Protracted parturition due to maternal hypocalcemia was observed when rats were treated from before mating through gestation starting at 0.5 mg/kg/day (approximately one tenth the 40 mg clinical daily dose). Maternotoxicity (late pregnancy deaths) also occurred in female rats treated orally with 15 mg/kg/day (approximately 4 times the 40 mg clinical daily dose) for varying gestational time periods. These maternal deaths were lessened but not eliminated by cessation of treatment. Calcium supplementation in the drinking water or by subcutaneous minipump to rats dosed orally with 15 mg/kg/day alendronate could not ameliorate the hypocalcemia or prevent the dystocia-related maternal and neonatal deaths. However, intravenous calcium supplementation prevented maternal, but not neonatal deaths.

8.2 Lactation

Risk Summary:

It is not known whether alendronate is present in human breast milk, affects human milk production, or has effects on the breastfed infant. The developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother’s clinical need for alendronate and any potential adverse effects on the breastfed child from alendronate or from the underlying maternal condition.

8.4 Pediatric Use

Alendronate is not indicated for use in pediatric patients.

The safety and efficacy of alendronate were examined in a randomized, double-blind, placebo- controlled two-year study of 139 pediatric patients, aged 4 to 18 years, with severe osteogenesis imperfecta (OI). One-hundred-and-nine patients were randomized to 5 mg alendronate daily (weight less than 40 kg) or 10 mg alendronate daily (weight greater than or equal to 40 kg) and 30 patients to placebo. The mean baseline lumbar spine BMD Z-score of the patients was -4.5. The mean change in lumbar spine BMD Z-score from baseline to Month 24 was 1.3 in the alendronate-treated patients and 0.1 in the placebo-treated patients. Treatment with alendronate did not reduce the risk of fracture. Sixteen percent of the alendronate patients who sustained a radiologically-confirmed fracture by Month 12 of the study had delayed fracture healing (callus remodeling) or fracture non-union when assessed radiographically at Month 24 compared with 9% of the placebo-treated patients. In alendronate-treated patients, bone histomorphometry data obtained at Month 24 demonstrated decreased bone turnover and delayed mineralization time; however, there were no mineralization defects. There were no statistically significant differences between the alendronate and placebo groups in reduction of bone pain. The oral bioavailability in children was similar to that observed in adults.

The overall safety profile of alendronate in osteogenesis imperfecta patients treated for up to 24 months was generally similar to that of adults with osteoporosis treated with alendronate. However, there was an increased occurrence of vomiting in osteogenesis imperfecta patients treated with alendronate compared to placebo. During the 24-month treatment period, vomiting was observed in 32 of 109 (29.4%) patients treated with alendronate and 3 of 30 (10%) patients treated with placebo.

In a pharmacokinetic study, 6 of 24 pediatric osteogenesis imperfecta patients who received a single oral dose of alendronate 35 or 70 mg developed fever, flu-like symptoms, and/or mild lymphocytopenia within 24 to 48 hours after administration. These events, lasting no more than 2 to 3 days and responding to acetaminophen, are consistent with an acute-phase response that has been reported in patients receiving bisphosphonates, including alendronate [see Adverse Reactions (6.2)].

8.5 Geriatric Use

Of the patients receiving alendronate in the Fracture Intervention Trial (FIT), 71% (n=2302) were greater than or equal to 65 years of age and 17% (n=550) were greater than or equal to 75 years of age. Of the patients receiving alendronate in the United States and Multinational osteoporosis treatment studies in women, and osteoporosis studies in men glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis studies, and Paget’s disease studies [see Clinical Studies (14.1), (14.3), (14.4), (14.5)], 45%, 54%, 37%, and 70% respectively, were 65 years of age or over. No overall differences in efficacy or safety were observed between these patients and younger patients, but greater sensitivity of some older individuals cannot be ruled out.

8.6 Renal Impairment

Alendronate is not recommended for patients with creatinine clearance less than 35 mL/min. No dosage adjustment is necessary in patients with creatinine clearance values between 35 to 60 mL/min [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].

8.7 Hepatic Impairment

As there is evidence that alendronate is not metabolized or excreted in the bile, no studies were conducted in patients with hepatic impairment. No dosage adjustment is necessary [see ClinicalPharmacology (12.3)].


Significant lethality after single oral doses was seen in female rats and mice at 552 mg/kg (3256 mg/m2) and 966 mg/kg (2898 mg/m2), respectively. In males, these values were slightly higher, 626 and 1280 mg/kg, respectively. There was no lethality in dogs at oral doses up to 200 mg/kg (4000 mg/m2).

No specific information is available on the treatment of overdosage with alendronate. Hypocalcemia, hypophosphatemia, and upper gastrointestinal adverse events, such as upset stomach, heartburn, esophagitis, gastritis, or ulcer, may result from oral overdosage. Milk or antacids should be given to bind alendronate. Due to the risk of esophageal irritation, vomiting should not be induced and the patient should remain fully upright.

Dialysis would not be beneficial


Alendronate Sodium Oral Solution is a bisphosphonate that acts as a specific inhibitor of osteoclast-mediated bone resorption. Bisphosphonates are synthetic analogs of pyrophosphate that bind to the hydroxyapatite found in bone.

Alendronate sodium is chemically described as (4-amino-1-hydroxybutylidene) bisphosphonic acid monosodium salt trihydrate.

The empirical formula of alendronate sodium is C4 H12 NNaO7 P2 ·3H2 O and its formula weight is 325.12. The structural formula is:

(click image for full-size original)

Alendronate sodium USP is a white powder. It is soluble in water, very slightly soluble in alcohol, and practically insoluble in chloroform.

Each bottle of the oral solution contains 91.35 mg of alendronate monosodium salt trihydrate, which is the molar equivalent to 70 mg of free acid. Each bottle also contains the following inactive ingredients: citric acid (anhydrous), methylparaben, propylparaben, purified water, raspberry flavor, saccharin sodium and sodium citrate dihydrate.


12.1 Mechanism of Action

Animal studies have indicated the following mode of action. At the cellular level, alendronate shows preferential localization to sites of bone resorption, specifically under osteoclasts. The osteoclasts adhere normally to the bone surface but lack the ruffled border that is indicative of active resorption. Alendronate does not interfere with osteoclast recruitment or attachment, but it does inhibit osteoclast activity. Studies in mice on the localization of radioactive [3 H] alendronate in bone showed about 10- fold higher uptake on osteoclast surfaces than on osteoblast surfaces. Bones examined 6 and 49 days after [3 H] alendronate administration in rats and mice, respectively, showed that normal bone was formed on top of the alendronate, which was incorporated inside the matrix. While incorporated in bone matrix, alendronate is not pharmacologically active. Thus, alendronate must be continuously administered to suppress osteoclasts on newly formed resorption surfaces. Histomorphometry in baboons and rats showed that alendronate treatment reduces bone turnover (i.e., the number of sites at which bone is remodeled). In addition, bone formation exceeds bone resorption at these remodeling sites, leading to progressive gains in bone mass.

12.2 Pharmacodynamics

Alendronate is a bisphosphonate that binds to bone hydroxyapatite and specifically inhibits the activity of osteoclasts, the bone-resorbing cells. Alendronate reduces bone resorption with no direct effect on bone formation, although the latter process is ultimately reduced because bone resorption and formation are coupled during bone turnover.

Osteoporosis in Postmenopausal Women:

Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass that leads to an increased risk of fracture. The diagnosis can be confirmed by the finding of low bone mass, evidence of fracture on x-ray, a history of osteoporotic fracture, or height loss or kyphosis, indicative of vertebral (spinal) fracture. Osteoporosis occurs in both males and females but is most common among women following the menopause, when bone turnover increases and the rate of bone resorption exceeds that of bone formation. These changes result in progressive bone loss and lead to osteoporosis in a significant proportion of women over age 50. Fractures, usually of the spine, hip, and wrist, are the common consequences. From age 50 to age 90, the risk of hip fracture in white women increases 50-fold and the risk of vertebral fracture 15 to 30- fold. It is estimated that approximately 40% of 50-year-old women will sustain one or more osteoporosis-related fractures of the spine, hip, or wrist during their remaining lifetimes. Hip fractures, in particular, are associated with substantial morbidity, disability, and mortality.

Daily oral doses of alendronate (5, 20, and 40 mg for six weeks) in postmenopausal women produced biochemical changes indicative of dose-dependent inhibition of bone resorption, including decreases in urinary calcium and urinary markers of bone collagen degradation (such as deoxypyridinoline and cross-linked N-telopeptides of type I collagen). These biochemical changes tended to return toward baseline values as early as 3 weeks following the discontinuation of therapy with alendronate and did not differ from placebo after 7 months.

Long-term treatment of osteoporosis with alendronate 10 mg/day (for up to five years) reduced urinary excretion of markers of bone resorption, deoxypyridinoline and cross-linked N-telopeptides of type l collagen, by approximately 50% and 70%, respectively, to reach levels similar to those seen in healthy premenopausal women. Similar decreases were seen in patients in osteoporosis prevention studies who received alendronate 5 mg/day. The decrease in the rate of bone resorption indicated by these markers was evident as early as one month and at three to six months reached a plateau that was maintained for the entire duration of treatment with alendronate. In osteoporosis treatment studies alendronate 10 mg/day decreased the markers of bone formation, osteocalcin and bone specific alkaline phosphatase by approximately 50%, and total serum alkaline phosphatase by approximately 25 to 30% to reach a plateau after 6 to 12 months. In osteoporosis prevention studies alendronate 5 mg/day decreased osteocalcin and total serum alkaline phosphatase by approximately 40% and 15%, respectively. Similar reductions in the rate of bone turnover were observed in postmenopausal women during one-year studies with once weekly alendronate 70 mg for the treatment of osteoporosis and once weekly alendronate 35 mg for the prevention of osteoporosis. These data indicate that the rate of bone turnover reached a new steady- state, despite the progressive increase in the total amount of alendronate deposited within bone.

As a result of inhibition of bone resorption, asymptomatic reductions in serum calcium and phosphate concentrations were also observed following treatment with alendronate. In the long-term studies, reductions from baseline in serum calcium (approximately 2%) and phosphate (approximately 4 to 6%) were evident the first month after the initiation of alendronate 10 mg. No further decreases in serum calcium were observed for the five-year duration of treatment; however, serum phosphate returned toward prestudy levels during years three through five. Similar reductions were observed with alendronate 5 mg/day. In one-year studies with once weekly alendronate 35 and 70 mg, similar reductions were observed at 6 and 12 months. The reduction in serum phosphate may reflect not only the positive bone mineral balance due to alendronate but also a decrease in renal phosphate reabsorption.

Osteoporosis in Men:

Treatment of men with osteoporosis with alendronate 10 mg/day for two years reduced urinary excretion of cross-linked N-telopeptides of type I collagen by approximately 60% and bone-specific alkaline phosphatase by approximately 40%. Similar reductions were observed in a one-year study in men with osteoporosis receiving once weekly alendronate 70 mg.

Glucocorticoid-Induced Osteoporosis:

Sustained use of glucocorticoids is commonly associated with development of osteoporosis and resulting fractures (especially vertebral, hip, and rib). It occurs both in males and females of all ages. Osteoporosis occurs as a result of inhibited bone formation and increased bone resorption resulting in net bone loss. Alendronate decreases bone resorption without directly inhibiting bone formation.

In clinical studies of up to two years’ duration, alendronate 5 and 10 mg/day reduced cross-linked N- telopeptides of type I collagen (a marker of bone resorption) by approximately 60% and reduced bone- specific alkaline phosphatase and total serum alkaline phosphatase (markers of bone formation) by approximately 15 to 30% and 8 to 18%, respectively. As a result of inhibition of bone resorption, alendronate 5 and 10 mg/day induced asymptomatic decreases in serum calcium (approximately 1 to 2%) and serum phosphate (approximately 1 to 8%).

Paget’s Disease of Bone:

Paget’s disease of bone is a chronic, focal skeletal disorder characterized by greatly increased and disorderly bone remodeling. Excessive osteoclastic bone resorption is followed by osteoblastic new bone formation, leading to the replacement of the normal bone architecture by disorganized, enlarged, and weakened bone structure.

Clinical manifestations of Paget’s disease range from no symptoms to severe morbidity due to bone pain, bone deformity, pathological fractures, and neurological and other complications. Serum alkaline phosphatase, the most frequently used biochemical index of disease activity, provides an objective measure of disease severity and response to therapy.

Alendronate decreases the rate of bone resorption directly, which leads to an indirect decrease in bone formation. In clinical trials, alendronate 40 mg once daily for six months produced significant decreases in serum alkaline phosphatase as well as in urinary markers of bone collagen degradation. As a result of the inhibition of bone resorption, alendronate induced generally mild, transient, and asymptomatic decreases in serum calcium and phosphate. provides trustworthy package insert and label information about marketed drugs as submitted by manufacturers to the US Food and Drug Administration. Package information is not reviewed or updated separately by Every individual package label entry contains a unique identifier which can be used to secure further details directly from the US National Institutes of Health and/or the FDA.

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