Etidronate review

Etidronate belongs to drugs which main action is to strengthen the bone by inhibiting the removal of osteoclasts. This aids in the remodeling of bones. The bone is in constant state of modeling, wherein the old bones are removed by osteoclasts and new bone recast by osteoblasts.

Etidronate disodium, marketed as Didronel, is used to treat a specific type of bone disease called the Paget’s disease. This is a bone disease that weakens and ultimately causes the deformation of the bone. The main action of the drug is to slow down the bone loss, preventing breakage and keeping bones strong. Belonging to a class of drugs called biphosphonates, the drug also helps alleviate some bone pain.

Etidronate is also reported to be used in treating bone loss or osteoporosis. This is so if a patient is taking corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone over a prolonged period. Also, etidronate may be a treatment for patients with high calcium levels in the bloodstream that may occur in some forms of cancers.

Etidronate tablets come in 200mg and 400mg formulations. The administration of the drug is done orally. The drug etidronate should be taken with an empty stomach at least two hours before eating or other medications, as calcium rich foods like milk, dairy products, antacids and vitamins may interfere with the absorption of etidronate.

Etidronate is a generally well-accepted medication in the human system. The most common side effect reported with the use of etidronate is stomach upset or diarrhea. However, most patients under etidronate therapy have had very few reported side effects.

However, serious side effects may also occur which will need emergency medical attention. Such side effects include newly felt or increasing pain in the bones, joints and/or muscles, change in the mood and behavior, and signs of infections that may include fevers, sore throat.

Etidronate use may also cause some infrequent side effects such as irritations and ulcers that may form in the stomach or esophagus. Some other side effects such as chest pain, heartburn, difficulty and pain in swallowing, gastrointestinal pain, appetite loss, weight loss and black stools.

Allergic reactions with the drug are very rare. However, if any of the symptoms of allergic reactions such as rashes, itching, swelling of the face, throat and tongue, and difficulty in breathing have been experienced, immediate medical attention is required.

Etidronate is contraindicated in patients with known hypersensitivity to the drug or its known components. Since the main action of etidronate is to lower the body’s calcium levels, the drug is not advised to be used by patients with extremely low levels of calcium, as it may bring about complications.

Patients with significant kidney and liver impairment are cautioned upon the usage of the drug. A detailed medical history, including past and present conditions as well as medications must be reported to the doctor prior to usage of the drug. In some patients with kidney impairment, the dosage of etidromate is lowered.

No known studies have shown whether the drug causes birth defects in pregnant women. However, pregnant women must only use the drug if completely necessary. It is not known if etidromate is excreted in breast milk, hence the potential benefits of the drug must be weighed against the risks it may pose to the nursing mother and infant.

Etidronate has the following structural formula:

Chemical structure of etidronate

• Molecular formula of etidronate is C2H8O7P2
• Chemical IUPAC Name is (1-hydroxy-1-phosphono-ethyl)phosphonic acid
• Molecular weight is 206.028 g/mol
Etidronate available : 200mg tablets and 400mg tablets

Brand name(s): Acide etidronique, Acido etidronico, Acidum etidronicum, Didrocal, Didronel, Etidronic acid, Etidronsaeure, Osteoscan

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