Fosamax (alendronate ) is it  the answer to your bone loss?

Fosamax is often prescribed by health care providers. (It was one of the first drugs prescribed by my own health care provider.). Like most post menopausal women, I found that it helped increase my bone density.                                                                                                     I did have problems with taking the drug on a daily basis  so stopped. using it. Then a weekly 70mg dose came on the market. I used this for awhile but stopped that too and after starting to read research about reversing bone loss moved to other forms of treatment.

Fosamx is a powerful drug and I assume you have some questions about it so I have used the question/answer format so you can quickly scroll down to find the information that interests you.

1. What is Fosamax and how does it work?  This drug is manufactured by Merck. It chemical (or technical) name is alendronate. This  is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for osteoporosis.

Fosamax works by "inhibiting the work of osteoclats".

(Osteoclasts are the cells that remove old bone.) This drug does not affect the work of your osteblasts, the cells that build new bone. Since your osteoblasts continue to work while your osteoclasts are inhibited by the drug, your bone density becomes greater. Why?

First you stop losing more bone than your cells are making. Then slowly, you add new bone. If you are doing bone density exercises and other bone building activities you will build new bone faster.

Since it usually takes about 100 days for a full cycle of bone building to occur, it takes about a year to see any results.

Research shows that the rate of increase in bone mass usually improves in the 2nd and 3rd year. After the third year, there appears to be little further improvement with Fosamax.

2. How often should one take it? Are there any cautions when taking it?There are two forms of Fosamx: one is taken each day; the other is taken once a week. The pill needs to be taken in the morning before eating or drinking anything. (No, no coffee or juice. They would interfere with the work of the pill.)

When you take the pill, you need to drink a full glass of water to be sure that the pill ‘goes all the way down’. Then do not lie down for at least 30 minutes. You can sit upright, stand or walk.

After 30 minutes, eat something. After that, you can lie down if you want or need. The reason you can not lie down is that Fosamax can erode the lining of the esophagus and cause ulceration. Staying upright makes sure the pill stays in the stomach when it disintegrates.

3. Should I have any concerns about taking this medication?  If you have any of the following conditions or problems, be sure to discuss them with your health care provider before taking this medication.

- if you have a problem swallowing or have a narrowing of your esophagus
- if you have ulcers on your esophagus or if you have an esophageal disease
- if you have a condition that causes low levels of calcium in your body
- if you have kidney disease
- if you have stomach ulcers or other digestive problems
- if you are unable to stand or sit upright for at least 30 minutes
- if you are pregnant or if you are breast feeding
It is important to discuss these problems with your health care provider because it could be that you should not take Fosamax or if you do take it, you may need a lower dose or some special monitoring.

4. What about the cost? Will my health insurance pay for this medication? This medication is not cheap. But since it is an FDA approved treatment for Osteoporosis, most insurance companies will cover the cost. If you do not have insurance, do shop around. Prices vary widely from pharmacy to pharmacy.

Also, Merck has a program to help those who can not afford their medications. Patients can get information about the program through Merck's Consumer toll-free number, 1-800-727-5400. Most patients apply through their health care provider, so do ask yours if you feel that you can not afford your  prescription.

5. Are their any generic equivalents? There are now two generic forms of the drug.

Teva Pharmaceuticals makes generic  equivalent called Alendronate Sodium Tablets in 5-milligram, 10-milligram, and 40-milligram daily doses, and in 35-milligram and 70-milligram weekly doses. Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc.  make generic Fosamax in 70-milligram tablets, which are taken once a week. 

6. Are there any 'downsides' to taking Fosamax? There are a few. There is the problem of possible irritation or ulceration of the esophagus or of developing gastric ulcers. But there are others. Some are quite serious. Read more at:: Fosamax side effects

Fosamax is not the only effective treatment.

There are dozens of effective ways to build strong bones without prescription drugs. But if you are going to use any of these you need to first understand ALL the reasons for your own bone loss.

Do read: Causes of Bone loss   Then go to Other treatments that will build bone            And find those the address your specific causes of bone loss.

Good luck. Many of us have rebuilt our bone density. That is one of the reasons I started this web site.  If you want some monthly news I suggest that you