Didronel is classified as a bisphosphonate. Bisphosphonates work to prevent bones from losing calcium. Didronel is prescribed to prevent or slow the progression of osteoporosis, and has also been given to cancer patients and patients with Paget’s disease to promote bone health. Didronel is often prescribed to treat abnormal bone growth after hip replacement or spinal cord injury.
Didronel has been linked to serious side effects including osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) or atypical femur fractures.
ONJ, which has also been referred to “Jaw Death,” is a condition where the jaw bones literally die—manifesting through infection and rotting. This most often occurs after the jaw has suffered minor trauma that could expose the jaw bones, such as tooth extraction.
In 2011, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article discussing the risks of bone fractures after using bisphosphonates. The article discussed the long term use of the drug and its link to serious bone fractures that could be debilitating. In one study of 310 cases of femur fractures, 291 patients had taken bisphosphonates, and many of them had been taking the drugs for more than five years.
Bisphosphonates, including Didronel have been linked to other serious side effects as well such as musculoskeletal pain, atrial fibrillation and esophageal cancer.
Serious Side effects may include:
- Painful or difficult swallowing
- Severe heartburn, burning pain in your upper stomach, or coughing up blood
- Severe joint, bone, or muscle pain
- Jaw pain, numbness, or swelling
- Severe diarrhea
- Bone fracture
- A red, blistering, peeling skin rash
Less serious side effects may include:
- Mild diarrhea
- Headache, confusion
- Muscle cramps, joint pain
- Numbness or tingly feeling