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What are bisphosphonate medications?

Bisphosphonates are a class of medications that are used for treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. This class of medication binds the hydroxyapatite crystals formed from bone minerals and keeps the osteoclasts (cells that break down bone) from resorbing these minerals and releasing them back into the bloodstream.
Some bisphosphonate medications (such as Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva) are taken orally (swallowed) to help prevent or treat osteoporosis (a thinning of the bones) and Paget's disease of the bone. Others, such as Aredia, Bonefos, Didronel or Zometa, are administered intravenously (injected into a vein) as part of cancer therapy to reduce bone pain and hypercalcemia of malignancy (abnormally high calcium levels in the blood), associated with metastatic breast cancer, prostate cancer and multiple myeloma.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.