My doctor recommended the IV medicine called Reclast® (zoledronic acid) for my osteoporosis. It’s only given once a year. Does that make the side effects worse?
Although Reclast® is given intravenously (by IV) once a year, most of the medicine is absorbed by your bones, and the rest leaves your body in about 24 hours. So it affects mostly bone, which is what you want.
Reclast® belongs to a class of drugs called bisphosphonates. In general, its side effects aren’t any more serious than those of the bisphosphonate medicines that are taken as pills to treat osteoporosis. These other medicines are Actonel® (risedronate), Boniva® (ibandronate) and Fosamax® (alendronate).
Side effects that are different from those seen with the bisphosphonate pills can occur shortly after receiving Reclast® (usually within 1 or 2 days) and include flu-like symptoms, fever, headache and pain in muscles or joints. They are temporary and usually last only two or three days. You are less likely to have them the next time you have an IV infu¬sion of Reclast®. Also, the side effects you may experience after taking IV Boniva® are similar. Most people who have taken bisphosphonate pills in the past do not experience these side effects when they receive the IV Reclast medica¬tion.
Rare side effects, such as severe bone, muscle or joint pain and osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), are not any differ¬ent from those of the other bisphosphonate medicines. Because Reclast is given directly into the bloodstream, it does not cause any stomach or throat irritation.
A healthcare provider gives Reclast® as an IV dose of 5 mg in a doctor’s office or other outpatient setting. It takes at least 15 minutes for the yearly infusion. Patients need to have two blood tests before each IV dose. One is a test for creatinine to check the kidneys. The other is a test to check blood calcium levels.
As you would with any medicine, it’s important to tell your healthcare provider if you think you are having a side ef¬fect. People can have unexpected side effects with any medicine.
For Reclast® to work, you need to get enough calcium and vitamin D and exercise regularly.