Health Guide
Drug Guide

Etidronate (Oral route)



Brand Names:

Dosage Forms:



Calcium Regulator



Uses of This Medicine:

Etidronate is used to treat Paget's disease of the bone. It may also be used to treat or prevent a certain type of bone problem (heterotopic ossification) after hip replacement surgery or spinal injury.

Etidronate is also used to treat hypercalcemia (too much calcium in the blood) that may occur with some types of cancer.

This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription.

Before Using This Medicine:

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:


Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.


Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of etidronate in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.

Older adults

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of etidronate in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related kidney, liver, or heart problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving etidronate.


Pregnancy CategoryExplanation
All TrimestersCAnimal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women OR no animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women.


There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.

Other medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Other interactions

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

Proper Use of This Medicine:

Take this medicine only as directed. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered. To do so may increase the chance of side effects.

Make sure your doctor knows if your diet includes large amounts of calcium, such as milk or other dairy products, or if you are on any special diet, such as a low-sodium or low-sugar diet. Calcium in the diet may prevent the absorption of oral etidronate.

Take etidronate with a full glass (6 to 8 ounces) of water on an empty stomach at least 2 hours before or after food (mid-morning is best) or at bedtime. Food may decrease the amount of etidronate absorbed by your body.

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.

In some patients, etidronate takes up to 3 months to work. If you feel that the medicine is not working, do not stop taking it on your own. Instead, check with your doctor.

It is important that you eat a well-balanced diet with an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D (found in milk or other dairy products). Too much or too little of either may increase the chance of side effects while you are taking etidronate. Your doctor can help you choose the meal plan that is best for you. However, do not take any food, especially milk, milk formulas, or other dairy products, or antacids, mineral supplements, or other medicines that are high in calcium or iron (high amounts of these minerals may also be in some vitamin preparations), magnesium, or aluminum within 2 hours of taking etidronate. To do so may keep this medicine from working properly.

If this medicine upsets your stomach, ask your doctor if you can take two smaller doses instead of one larger dose. Do not change without talking to your doctor.

For treating Paget's disease, you may need to take this medicine for up to 6 months. Then after 90 days of not taking the medicine, your doctor may want you to start another course of treatment.

If you have Paget's disease, this medicine may work slowly, so you may not feel better until you have been using it for awhile. Do not stop taking it without talking to your doctor first. Your body may continue to respond to this medicine for several months after you stop using it.


The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.


Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.

Precautions While Using This Medicine:

It is important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits even if you are between treatments and are not taking this medicine. If your condition has improved and your doctor has told you to stop taking etidronate, your progress must still be checked. The results of laboratory tests or the occurrence of certain symptoms will tell your doctor if more medicine must be taken. Your doctor may want you to begin another course of treatment after you have been off the medicine for at least 3 months.

This medicine can irritate your esophagus. If you think this medicine has started to damage your esophagus, stop taking this medicine and call your doctor. Some symptoms of damage to the esophagus are heartburn (either new or worse than usual), pain when swallowing, pain in the center of your chest, trouble swallowing, or feeling that food gets stuck on the way to your stomach.

It is important that you tell all of your health care providers that you are taking etidronate. If you are having dental procedures done while taking etidronate you may have an increased chance of getting a severe problem of your jaw.

Make sure you tell your doctor about any new medical problems, especially with your teeth or jaws. Tell your doctor if you have severe bone, joint, or muscle pain while using this medicine.

If this medicine causes you to have nausea or diarrhea and it continues, check with your doctor. The dose may need to be changed.

This medicine may increase your risk of developing fractures. This may be more common if you use it for a long time. Check with your doctor right away if you have dull or aching pain in the arms, legs, or thighs.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

Side Effects of This Medicine:

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

More common
Bone pain or tenderness (increased, continuing, or returning in patients with Paget's disease)
Less common
Bone fractures, especially of the thigh bone
Abdominal or stomach pain or burning
bloody, black, or tarry stools
chest pain
cough or hoarseness
general feeling of tiredness or weakness
lower back or side pain
noisy breathing
painful or difficult urination
pale skin
skin rash or itching
sore throat
sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or inside the mouth
swelling of the arms, legs, face, lips, tongue, or throat
swollen glands
tightness in the chest
unusual bleeding or bruising
Incidence not known
Blistering, peeling, loosening of the skin
bone, joint, or muscle pain that is severe and occasionally disabling
burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
difficulty in moving
difficulty in swallowing
feeling sad or empty
heavy jaw feeling
lack of appetite
large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
loosening of a tooth
loss of interest or pleasure
loss of memory
pain or burning in the throat
pain, swelling, or numbness in the mouth or jaw
problems with memory
rash with flat lesions or small raised lesions on the skin
red irritated eyes
red skin lesions, often with a purple center
redness or discoloration of the skin
seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
trouble concentrating
trouble sleeping
unusual tiredness or weakness

Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:

Symptoms of overdose
Abdominal or stomach cramps
difficulty in breathing
irregular heartbeats
mood or mental changes
muscle cramps in the hands, arms, feet, legs, or face
numbness and tingling around the mouth, fingertips, or feet
shortness of breath

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
(at higher doses)
Incidence not known
Burning feeling in the chest or stomach
hair loss, thinning of hair
leg cramps
stomach upset
tenderness in the stomach area

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

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

Last Updated: 10/12/2016

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