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What is Actonel?


Actonel® (risedronate) is an oral drug used to prevent bone loss and increase bone mass. It is used to treat or prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, to prevent osteoporosis due to medicines called corticosteroids, and to treat Paget's disease, a condition that causes weak or deformed bones.

Actonel® belongs to a class of drugs called bisphosphonates, which also includes Fosamax® (alendronate) and Didronel® (etidronate). It works to slow the breakdown of bone, help rebuild bone mass, and reduce the risk of broken bones. Over any three-year period, about one in 16 women with osteoporosis will have a non-vertebral fracture caused by weak bones. Studies have shown that Actonel® can reduce the risk of fractures to one in 25 women. It reduces the risk of hip fracture among elderly women with osteoporosis but not for elderly women who do not have osteoporosis. Actonel® increases bone mineral density by one to six percent.

Anyone taking Actonel® should also be sure to get enough calcium, vitamin D and weight-bearing exercise as directed by a doctor. Women who take Actonel® for osteoporosis can expect to take it indefinitely. Take Actonel® on an empty stomach before your first meal, with a full glass of water. To reduce the risk for pain or bleeding in the throat, do not lie down for at least 30 minutes after taking Actonel®. Wait at least 30 minutes before eating or drinking anything except plain water or before taking vitamins, calcium, or antacids.

Actonel® side effects

People who received Actonel® were no more likely to experience side effects than those taking a placebo. The most common side effects from Actonel® include infection, back pain, joint pain, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting, constipation, gas, headache, and heartburn.

Get more information on Paget's disease in our Health Encyclopedia.

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