Medications for Osteoporosis
Medications for improving bone density can be divided into oral and injection therapies. Currently the most commonly used treatments are oral bisphosphonates (alendronate, risedronate), subcutaneous denosumab (Prolia), and intravenous zoledronic acid (Aclasta). These agents can reduce the fracture risk by approximately 50%.
These are tablets that are usually taken weekly, or occasionally daily or monthly. The medications are best taken on an empty stomach, with a glass of water, and the patient should then remain upright and delay breakfast and other medications for at least 30 minutes. The medications are usually well tolerated.
This is an injection given by the doctor every 6 months. It is administered under the skin of the abdomen. It is injected using a small needle and is almost painless. It is more convenient than tablets and has fewer side effects.
Zoledronic Acid (Aclasta)
This medication is given once a year as a slow infusion into a vein. The first injection is often associated with flu-like symptoms of muscle ache, headache, and a mild fever, which usually lasts no more than 48 hours. Subsequent injections are usually well tolerated and many patients report no symptoms.
Other pharmaceutical agents are available for treatment of osteoporosis. More information can be obtained from your treating doctor.