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What does it do?

Etidronate is used to treat osteoporosis (weak bones). It helps to make your bones stronger and less likely to break. It is also sometimes used for other conditions.

Before you start

  • Tell your doctor if you have kidney, parathyroid, dental or swallowing problems, or if you get heartburn or indigestion.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.

How should you take it?

Take etidronate as directed. You need to take it at least 2 hours before or after food or drink and other medicines. Etidronate can damage your oesophagus (food pipe). To avoid this, take it with a large glass of water. Swallow the tablet whole, do not crush or chew it. Sit or stand upright for at least 30 minutes after taking a dose.
Etidronate is usually taken for 2 weeks every 3 months.

What if you forget a dose?

Skip the missed dose and take the next day’s dose at the usual time.

Can you take other medicines?

Some medicines available without a prescription may react with etidronate including:

  • calcium supplements (e.g. Calci-Tab®)
  • iron supplements (e.g. Ferro-Tab®)
  • antacids (e.g. Mylanta®)

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Trouble swallowing, chest pain

Indigestion or heartburn (new or getting worse)

Eye pain, changes in vision

Tell your doctor immediately

Joint, muscle or bone aches and pains

Stomach upset

Tell your doctor if troublesome

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • Before you have any dental work, tell your dentist you are taking etidronate.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the MyMedicines Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Te Whatu Ora - Waitaha, New Zealand. March 2023

For more general information about this sheet and its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

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About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at Te Whatu Ora – Waitaha. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed