The following adverse reactions have been identified during post-approval use of alendronate sodium. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.
Body as a Whole: hypersensitivity reactions including urticaria and angioedema. Transient symptoms of myalgia, malaise, asthenia and fever have been reported with alendronate sodium, typically in association with initiation of treatment. Symptomatic hypocalcemia has occurred, generally in association with predisposing conditions. Peripheral edema.
Gastrointestinal: esophagitis, esophageal erosions, esophageal ulcers, esophageal stricture or perforation, and oropharyngeal ulceration. Gastric or duodenal ulcers, some severe and with complications, have also been reported [see Dosage and Administration (2.6); Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].
Localized osteonecrosis of the jaw, generally associated with tooth extraction and/or local infection with delayed healing, has been reported [see Warnings and Precautions (5.4)].
Musculoskeletal: bone, joint, and/or muscle pain, occasionally severe, and incapacitating [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)]; joint swelling; low-energy femoral shaft and subtrochanteric fractures [see Warnings and Precautions (5.5)].
Nervous System: dizziness and vertigo.
Pulmonary: acute asthma exacerbations.
Skin: rash (occasionally with photosensitivity), pruritus, alopecia, severe skin reactions, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis.
Special Senses: uveitis, scleritis or episcleritis. Cholesteatoma of the external auditory canal (focal osteonecrosis).
Co-administration of alendronate sodium and calcium, antacids, or oral medications containing multivalent cations will interfere with absorption of alendronate. Therefore, instruct patients to wait at least one-half hour after taking alendronate before taking any other oral medications.
In clinical studies, the incidence of upper gastrointestinal adverse events was increased in patients receiving concomitant therapy with daily doses of alendronate greater than 10 mg and aspirin-containing products.
Alendronate may be administered to patients taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In a 3-year, controlled, clinical study (n=2027) during which a majority of patients received concomitant NSAIDs, the incidence of upper gastrointestinal adverse events was similar in patients taking alendronate 5 or 10 mg/day compared to those taking placebo. However, since NSAID use is associated with gastrointestinal irritation, caution should be used during concomitant use with alendronate.
Available data on the use of alendronate in pregnant women are insufficient to inform a drug-associated risk of adverse maternal or fetal outcomes. Discontinue alendronate when pregnancy is recognized.
In animal reproduction studies, daily oral administration of alendronate to rats from before mating through the end of gestation or lactation showed decreased postimplantation survival and decreased pup body weight gain starting at doses equivalent to less than half of the highest recommended 40 mg clinical daily dose (based on body surface area, mg/m2). Oral administration of alendronate to rats during organogenesis resulted in reduced fetal ossification starting at doses 3 times the 40 mg clinical daily dose. No similar fetal effects were observed in pregnant rabbits dosed orally during organogenesis at doses equivalent to approximately 10 times the 40 mg clinical daily dose.
Delayed or failed delivery of offspring, protracted parturition, and late pregnancy maternal and fetal deaths due to maternal hypocalcemia occurred in rats at oral doses as low as one tenth the 40 mg clinical daily dose (see Data).
Bisphosphonates are incorporated into the bone matrix, from which they are gradually released over a period of years. The amount of bisphosphonate incorporated into adult bone and available for release into the systemic circulation is directly related to the dose and duration of bisphosphonate use. Consequently, based on the mechanism of action of bisphosphonates, there is a potential risk of fetal harm, predominantly skeletal, if a woman becomes pregnant after completing a course of bisphosphonate therapy. The impact of variables such as time between cessation of bisphosphonate therapy to conception, the particular bisphosphonate used, and the route of administration (intravenous versus oral) on the risk has not been studied.
The estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage for the indicated population(s) is unknown. All pregnancies have a background risk of birth defects, loss, or other adverse outcomes. In the U.S. general population, the estimated background risks of major birth defects and miscarriage in clinically recognized pregnancies is 2-4% and 15-20%, respectively.
Animal Data: Reproduction studies in rats dosed orally from before mating to the end of gestation or lactation showed decreased postimplantation survival starting at 2 mg/kg/day and decreased body weight gain starting at 1 mg/kg/day, doses equivalent to less than half the 40 mg clinical daily dose based on body surface area, mg/m2. Incidence of incomplete fetal ossification in vertebral, skull, and sternebral bones were increased in rats dosed orally during organogenesis starting at 10 mg/kg/day (approximately 3 times the 40 mg clinical daily dose). No similar fetal effects were observed in pregnant rabbits dosed orally during organogenesis at up to 35 mg/kg/day (equivalent to approximately 10 times the 40 mg clinical daily dose).
Both total and ionized calcium decreased in pregnant rats dosed orally with 15 mg/kg/day alendronate (approximately 4 times the 40 mg clinical daily dose) resulting in delays and failures of delivery. Protracted parturition due to maternal hypocalcemia was observed when rats were treated from before mating through gestation starting at 0.5 mg/kg/day (approximately one tenth the 40 mg clinical daily dose). Maternotoxicity (late pregnancy deaths) also occurred in female rats treated orally with 15 mg/kg/day (approximately 4 times the 40 mg clinical daily dose) for varying gestational time periods. These maternal deaths were lessened but not eliminated by cessation of treatment. Calcium supplementation in the drinking water or by subcutaneous minipump to rats dosed orally with 15 mg/kg/day alendronate could not ameliorate the hypocalcemia or prevent the dystocia-related maternal and neonatal deaths. However, intravenous calcium supplementation prevented maternal, but not neonatal deaths.
It is not known whether alendronate is present in human breast milk, affects human milk production, or has effects on the breastfed infant. The developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother’s clinical need for alendronate and any potential adverse effects on the breastfed child from alendronate or from the underlying maternal condition.
Alendronate is not indicated for use in pediatric patients.
The safety and efficacy of alendronate were examined in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled two-year study of 139 pediatric patients, aged 4 to 18 years, with severe osteogenesis imperfecta (OI). One-hundred-and-nine patients were randomized to 5 mg alendronate daily (weight less than 40 kg) or 10 mg alendronate daily (weight greater than or equal to 40 kg) and 30 patients to placebo. The mean baseline lumbar spine BMD Z-score of the patients was -4.5. The mean change in lumbar spine BMD Z-score from baseline to Month 24 was 1.3 in the alendronate-treated patients and 0.1 in the placebo-treated patients. Treatment with alendronate did not reduce the risk of fracture. Sixteen percent of the alendronate patients who sustained a radiologically-confirmed fracture by Month 12 of the study had delayed fracture healing (callus remodeling) or fracture non-union when assessed radiographically at Month 24 compared with 9% of the placebo-treated patients. In alendronate-treated patients, bone histomorphometry data obtained at Month 24 demonstrated decreased bone turnover and delayed mineralization time; however, there were no mineralization defects. There were no statistically significant differences between the alendronate and placebo groups in reduction of bone pain. The oral bioavailability in children was similar to that observed in adults.
The overall safety profile of alendronate in osteogenesis imperfecta patients treated for up to 24 months was generally similar to that of adults with osteoporosis treated with alendronate. However, there was an increased occurrence of vomiting in osteogenesis imperfecta patients treated with alendronate compared to placebo. During the 24-month treatment period, vomiting was observed in 32 of 109 (29.4%) patients treated with alendronate and 3 of 30 (10%) patients treated with placebo.
In a pharmacokinetic study, 6 of 24 pediatric osteogenesis imperfecta patients who received a single oral dose of alendronate 35 or 70 mg developed fever, flu-like symptoms, and/or mild lymphocytopenia within 24 to 48 hours after administration. These events, lasting no more than 2 to 3 days and responding to acetaminophen, are consistent with an acute-phase response that has been reported in patients receiving bisphosphonates, including alendronate [see Adverse Reactions (6.2)].
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