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Etidronate (Didronel) Side Effects, Dosage, Uses, Off-Label Use

What is etidronate, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

What brand names are available for etidronate?


Is etidronate available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for etidronate?


What are the uses for etidronate?

Etidronate is a medication prescribed for the treatment of Paget's disease and preventing heterotopic ossification (abnormal bone growth). Off-label uses include the treatment of hypercalcemia associated with cancer, and prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis and steroid-induced osteoporosis.

What are the side effects of etidronate?

Seek emergency medical attention if you have signs of an allergic reaction, which include:

Stop using etidronate and call your doctor immediately if you experience the following:

  • severe pain in your joints, bones, or muscles,
  • jaw pain, numbness, or swelling,
  • severe diarrhea,
  • muscle spasms or contractions, and
  • numbness or tingly feeling around your mouth, or in your fingers and toes.

Common side effects include:

This is not a complete list of side effects, as others may occur. Talk to your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

What is the dosage for etidronate?

  • The recommended dose for treating adults with Paget's disease is 5-10 mg/kg daily for up to 6 months or 11 to 20/mg/kg daily for up to 3 months. The maximum dose is 20 mg/kg daily.
  • The dose for preventing heterotopic ossification after hip replacement is 20 mg/kg daily one month before and for 3 months after surgery.
  • For prevention of heterotopic ossification after spinal cord injury the dose is 20 mg/kg daily for 2 weeks then 10 mg/kg daily for 10 weeks.

Food (especially, calcium rich foods such as dairy products), antacids, vitamins with mineral supplements, and certain medications can interfere with the absorption of etidronate. Therefore, etidronate should be taken on an empty stomach 2 hours before or after eating or taking other medications.


What is another medical term for osteoporosis?
See Answer

What drugs or supplements interact with etidronate?

Avoid taking any other medicines for at least 2 hours after taking etidronate. This includes vitamins, calcium, and antacids. Some medicines can make it harder for your body to absorb etidronate.

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially a blood thinner like warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven).

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with etidronate, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here.

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about etidronate.

Is etidronate safe to take if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

  • The safety and effectiveness of etidronate has not been established in pregnant women.
  • The safety and effectiveness of etidronate has not been established in nursing mothers.

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