Etidronate (By mouth)


Etidronate (e-ti-DROE-nate)

Treats Paget disease of the bone. Also prevents or treats bone problems (heterotopic ossification) that may happen after hip replacement surgery or spinal injury.

Brand Name(s)


When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

How to Use This Medicine


  • Take your medicine as directed. Your dose may need to be changed several times to find what works best for you.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions if you need to take calcium and vitamin D supplements.
  • If any of this medicine stays in your esophagus, it may cause serious damage. To lower the risk of this problem, use this medicine exactly as directed.
  • Swallow the tablet whole with a large glass (6 to 8 ounces) of water at least 2 hours before or after eating.
  • Do not lie down for at least 30 minutes after taking this medicine, and do not lie down until after you have eaten some food.
  • If this medicine upsets your stomach, ask your doctor if you can take two smaller doses instead of one large dose. Do not change without talking to your doctor, though.
  • Paget disease
    • You may need to take this medicine for up to 6 months, then stop for 90 days. This medicine keeps working after you stop taking it.
    • This medicine may work slowly, so you may not feel better until you have been using it for awhile. Do not stop taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

If a dose is missed:

  • Take a dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and take a regular dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using medicines or receiving treatments that weaken your immune system, such as cancer treatment, radiation treatment, or steroids (such as dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, methylprednisolone, prednisolone, prednisone, Medrol®). Tell your doctor if you are also using a blood thinner (such as warfarin, Coumadin®, Jantoven®).
  • Do not eat or drink anything that has calcium (such as milk or milk products), within 2 hours of the time you take etidronate. Allow at least 2 hours before and after you take etidronate before you take any medicine that contains aluminum, magnesium, iron, or calcium, including supplements and antacids (such as Maalox®, Mylanta®, Tums®). Minerals like these may keep your body from absorbing the medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease, severe diarrhea, stomach ulcers, heartburn, or any other stomach or bowel problems. Tell your doctor if you have anemia, blood clotting problems, cancer, infection of any kind, any type of mineral imbalance, or dental problems.
  • This medicine may harm your throat and esophagus. Stop taking this medicine and call your doctor right away if you have heartburn (either new or worse than usual), pain when swallowing, pain in the center of your chest, trouble swallowing, or a feeling that food gets stuck on the way to your stomach.
  • You might need to stop taking this medicine for a short time if you break a bone.
  • Make sure any doctor or dentist who treats you knows that you are using this medicine. This medicine could cause jaw problems, especially if you have a tooth pulled or have other dental work. Tell your doctor or dentist if you have pain, swelling, or other problems in your mouth or jaw. Make sure your doctor knows about dental problems that you already have and if you wear dentures. Also tell your doctor if you have cancer, anemia, or blood clotting problems, because you could be more likely to develop jaw problems.
  • Check with your doctor if this medicine causes nausea or diarrhea that will not stop.
  • This medicine may increase your risk of breaking a bone. Check with your doctor right away if you have dull or aching pain in the arms, legs, or thighs.
  • Your doctor will check your progress and the effects of this medicine at regular visits. Keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, red skin rash
  • Chest pain, heartburn, or burning feeling in your throat
  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Heavy feeling in the jaw, loose teeth, or other teeth problems
  • Muscle spasms, twitching, tingling, numbness
  • Pain, swelling, or numbness in the mouth or jaw
  • Severe bone, joint, or muscle pain
  • Unusual or severe stomach pain
  • Unusual pain in your thigh, groin, or hip
  • Worsening bone pain or new bone pain

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Mild bone, muscle, or joint pain
  • Mild diarrhea or nausea

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 8/4/2014

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