Also Known As: Alendronic acid, Fosamax
Alendronic acid (INN) or alendronate sodium (USAN) â€” sold as Fosamax by Merck â€” is a bisphosphonate drug used for osteoporosis and several other bone diseases. It is marketed alone as well as in combination with vitamin D (2,800 IU and 5600 IU, under the name Fosamax+D). Merck's U.S. patent on alendronate expired in 2008 and Merck lost a series of appeals to block a generic version of the drug from being certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
On February 6, 2008, the US FDA approved the first generic versions of alendronate, which were marketed by Barr Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA. Teva Pharmaceuticals manufactures generic alendronate in 5-milligram, 10-milligram, and 40-milligram daily doses, and in 35-milligram and 70-milligram weekly doses, while Barr made generic alendronate in 70-milligram tablets, which were taken once weekly. Barr pharmaceuticals were subsequently acquired by Teva in July 2008.
Alendronate inhibits osteoclast-mediated bone-resorption. Like all bisphosphonates, it is chemically related to inorganic pyrophosphate, the endogenous regulator of bone turnover. But while pyrophosphate inhibits both osteoclastic bone resorption and the mineralization of the bone newly formed by osteoblasts, alendronate specifically inhibits bone resorption without any effect on mineralization at pharmacologically achievable doses. Its inhibition of bone-resorption is dose-dependent and approximately 1,000 times stronger than the equimolar effect of the first bisphosphonate drug, etidronate. Under therapy, normal bone tissue develops, and alendronate is deposited in the bone-matrix in pharmacologically inactive form. For optimal action, enough calcium and vitamin D are needed in the body in order to promote normal bone development. Hypocalcemia should, therefore, be corrected before starting therapy.