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All about: Didronel

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Generic Name: etidronate (eh TIH droe nate)
Brand Names: Didronel

What is etidronate?

Etidronate is in a group of medicines called bisphosphonates (bis FOS fo nayts). It alters the cycle of bone formation and breakdown in the body.

Etidronate is used to treat Paget's disease, and to treat conditions of irregular bone growth due to hip fracture or spinal cord injury.

Etidronate may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about etidronate?

Take each dose with a full glass (6 to 8 ounces) of water. Use only plain water (not mineral water) when taking an etidronate tablet. For at least the first 2 hours after taking etidronate, do not eat or drink anything other than plain water, and do not take any other medicines including vitamins or mineral supplements.

Especially avoid drinking milk or eating dairy products within 2 hours after taking etidronate. Also avoid taking supplements that contain calcium, magnesium, iron, or aluminum (such as in multivitamins with iron, and in many types of antacids).

Some people using medicines similar to etidronate have developed bone loss in the jaw, also called osteonecrosis of the jaw. Symptoms of this condition may include jaw pain, swelling, numbness, loose teeth, gum infection, or slow healing after injury or surgery involving the gums. You may be more likely to develop osteonecrosis of the jaw if you have cancer or have been treated with chemotherapy, radiation, or steroids. Other conditions associated with osteonecrosis of the jaw include blood clotting disorders, anemia (low red blood cells), and pre-existing dental problems.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking etidronate?

Do not take etidronate if you have a condition called osteomalacia (softening of the bones).

Before taking etidronate, tell your doctor if you have:

  • diarrhea;

  • a bone fracture;

  • a stomach or esophageal ulcer or disease; or

  • kidney disease.

If you have any of these conditions, you may not be able to use etidronate, or you may need a dosage adjustment or special tests during treatment.

Some people using medicines similar to etidronate have developed bone loss in the jaw, also called osteonecrosis of the jaw. Symptoms of this condition may include jaw pain, swelling, numbness, loose teeth, gum infection, or slow healing after injury or surgery involving the gums.

You may be more likely to develop osteonecrosis of the jaw if you have cancer or have been treated with chemotherapy, radiation, or steroids. Other conditions associated with osteonecrosis of the jaw include blood clotting disorders, anemia (low red blood cells), and dental surgery or pre-existing dental problems.

FDA pregnancy category C. This medication may be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. It is not known whether etidronate passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take etidronate?

Take etidronate exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not use the medication in larger amounts or for longer than recommended by your doctor.

Do not crush, chew, or suck the pill. Swallow it whole. Take each etidronate tablet with a full glass (6 to 8 ounces) of water. Use only plain water (not mineral water) when taking an etidronate tablet. For at least the first 2 hours after taking etidronate, do not eat or drink anything other than plain water, and do not take any other medicines including vitamins or mineral supplements.

It is important to take etidronate regularly to get the most benefit.

Paget's disease is usually treated for 30 to 60 days with etidronate. After you stop taking etidronate, you must stay off the medication for at least 90 days before starting etidronate therapy again.

To be sure this medication is helping your condition, your doctor will need to check your progress on a regular basis. It is important that you not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor.

Etidronate is only part of a complete program of treatment that may also include taking calcium and vitamin supplements. Follow your diet, medication, and exercise routines very closely.

Store etidronate at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at the next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine.

Symptoms of an etidronate overdose may include muscle cramps, stiffness, or twitching, breathing problems, swelling in your hands or feet, and muscle movements in your face that you cannot control.

What should I avoid while taking etidronate?

Avoid drinking milk or eating dairy products within 2 hours after taking etidronate. Also avoid taking supplements that contain calcium, magnesium, iron, or aluminum (such as in multivitamins with iron, and in many types of antacids).

Etidronate side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop using etidronate and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
  • severe joint, bone, or muscle pain;

  • jaw pain, numbness, or swelling;

  • severe diarrhea;

  • bone fracture; or

  • a red, blistering, peeling skin rash.

Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue to take etidronate and talk to your doctor if you experience

  • mild diarrhea;

  • headache, confusion;

  • nausea; or

  • numbness or tingly feeling.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

What other drugs will affect etidronate?

Before taking etidronate, tell your doctor if you are taking a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin). You may not be able to use etidronate, or you may need dosage adjustments or special tests during treatment.

There may be other drugs that can affect etidronate. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist has more information about etidronate written for health professionals that you may read.

What does my medication look like?

Etidronate is available with a prescription under the brand name Didronel. Other brand or generic formulations may also be available. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about this medication, especially if it is new to you.

  • Didronel 200 mg-white, rectangular tablets

  • Didronel 400 mg-white, scored, capsule-shaped tablets

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 3.03. Revision Date: 7/22/06 5:53:11 PM.

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