Generic Name: denosumab (den-OSE-ue-mab)
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Sep 5, 2020.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Immunological Agent
Pharmacologic Class: Monoclonal Antibody
Uses for denosumab
Denosumab injection is used to treat osteoporosis (thinning of the bones) in women who have an increased risk for fractures after menopause, and osteoporosis in men. It is given when other medicines cannot be used or after other medicines did not work well. It is also used to treat osteoporosis in patients using steroid medicines for at least 6 months.
Denosumab injection is also used to treat bone loss in men with prostate cancer and women with breast cancer who are receiving cancer treatment.
It is used to prevent bone problems in patients with multiple myeloma and bone metastases (cancer that has spread) from tumors. Denosumab is also used to treat giant cell tumor of the bone that cannot be removed by surgery. Denosumab is also used to treat hypercalcemia of malignancy that has been treated with bisphosphonates (eg, alendronate, ibandronate, risedronate, Fosamax®) but did not work well.
Denosumab is to be given only by or under the supervision of your doctor.
Before using denosumab
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For denosumab, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to denosumab or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Use of denosumab injection is not recommended in the pediatric population, except for teenagers with giant cell tumor of the bone. The safety and efficacy of denosumab for other conditions have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of denosumab injection in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more sensitive to the effects of denosumab than younger adults.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are receiving denosumab, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using denosumab with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of denosumab. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Anemia or
- Blood clotting problems or
- Cancer or
- Dental disease, history of or
- Dental implants, history of or
- Dentures that do not fit well or
- Diabetes or
- Fractures, history of or
- Gum disease or
- Hypoparathyroidism (underactive parathyroid gland), history of or
- Kidney problems, severe and may require dialysis or
- Malabsorption syndrome (trouble absorbing food), history of or
- Mouth surgery, history of or
- Parathyroid surgery, history of or
- Thyroid surgery, history of or
- Tooth extraction, history of—May cause side effects to become worse.
- Ear infection or
- Eczema (skin problem) or
- Endocarditis (heart infection) or
- Skin infections or
- Skin rashes or
- Stomach infection or
- Urinary tract infection—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Hypocalcemia (low calcium in the blood)—Should not be given to patients with this condition.
Proper use of denosumab
A doctor or other trained health professional will give you denosumab. It is given as a shot under your skin, usually on the upper arm, upper thigh, or stomach.
Prolia® is usually given once every 6 months, and Xgeva® is usually given once every 4 weeks. Your doctor may also give you vitamin D and calcium supplements to prevent unwanted effects. Follow the instructions about how to take these medicines.
Denosumab comes with a Medication Guide. Read the information carefully. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.
Denosumab needs to be given on a fixed schedule. If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, call your doctor or pharmacist for instructions.
Precautions while using denosumab
It is important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure denosumab is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
Prolia® contains denosumab which can also be found in Xgeva®. Patients receiving Prolia® should not receive Xgeva®.
Your unborn baby could be harmed if you use denosumab while you are pregnant. Women should use a highly effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant during treatment with denosumab and for at least 5 months after the last dose. There is also a potential for denosumab to cause birth defects if the father is using it when his sexual partner becomes pregnant. If a pregnancy occurs while you are receiving denosumab, tell your doctor right away.
Denosumab may cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Tell your doctor or nurse right away if you have a rash, lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting, itching, swelling of the face, tongue, and throat, trouble breathing, or chest pain after you get the injection.
Denosumab may cause hypocalcemia (low calcium in the blood). A low blood calcium must be treated before you receive denosumab. Call your doctor right away if you have muscle spasms or twitching, or numbness or tingling in your fingers, toes, or around your mouth.
Prolia® may increase your risk of developing infections. Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections while you are receiving denosumab. Check with your doctor right away if you have a fever or chills, red, swollen skin, severe abdominal or stomach pain, or burning or painful urination.
Skin problems may occur after receiving Prolia®. Check with your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms that do not go away or get worse: blistering, crusting, irritation, itching, or reddening of the skin, cracked, dry, or scaly skin, rash, or swollen skin.
It is important that you tell all of your doctors that you are receiving denosumab injection, including your dentist. If you are having dental procedures while receiving denosumab, you may have an increased chance of having a severe problem with your jaw. Make sure you tell your doctor or dentist about any new problems, such as pain or swelling, with your teeth or jaw.
The needle cover of the prefilled Prolia® syringe contains dry natural rubber (a derivative of latex), which may cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to latex. Tell your doctor if you have a latex allergy before you start receiving denosumab.
Denosumab may increase your risk of developing fractures of the thigh bone. This may be more common if you use it for a long time. Check with your doctor right away if you have a dull or aching pain in the thigh, groin, or hips.
Check with your doctor right away if you have severe muscle, bone, or joint pain after receiving Prolia®.
Do not suddenly stop receiving denosumab without checking first with your doctor. Doing so may increase your risk for more fractures. Talk to your doctor about other medicines that you can take.
Hypercalcemia may occur after stopping Xgeva® treatment in patients with growing bones. Tell your doctor right away if you have nausea, vomiting, headache, or decreased alertness.
Denosumab side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Back pain
- blistering, crusting, irritation, itching, or reddening of the skin
- bloody or cloudy urine
- cracked, dry, or scaly skin
- difficult, burning, or painful urination
- frequent urge to urinate
- muscle or bone pain
- pain in the arms or legs
- skin rash, encrusted, scaly, and oozing
- Arm or jaw pain
- bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
- body aches or pain
- chest pain or discomfort
- chest tightness or heaviness
- difficulty with breathing
- difficulty with moving
- dryness or soreness of the throat
- ear congestion
- fast or irregular heartbeat
- joint pain
- loss of voice
- muscle cramps in the hands, arms, feet, legs, or face
- muscle stiffness
- numbness and tingling around the mouth, fingertips, hands, or feet
- pain in the lower back, bottom, upper leg, or hips
- painful blisters on the trunk of the body
- pale skin
- rapid weight gain
- runny or stuffy nose
- stomach cramps
- swollen joints
- tender, swollen glands in the neck
- trouble swallowing
- troubled breathing with exertion
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- unusual weight gain or loss
- voice changes
- Blood in the stool
- change in bowel habits
- clear or bloody discharge from the nipple
- darkened urine
- difficulty with eating
- dimpling of the breast skin
- inverted nipple
- itching, pain, redness, swelling, tenderness, or warmth on the skin
- loss of appetite
- lower back or side pain
- lump in the breast or under the arm
- lump or swelling in the abdomen or stomach
- pains in the stomach, side, or abdomen, possibly radiating to the back
- persistent crusting or scaling of the nipple
- raised, firm, and bright red patches of the skin on the arm or leg
- redness or swelling of the breast
- sore on the skin of the breast that does not heal
- stomach discomfort
- unexplained weight loss
- yellow eyes or skin
Incidence not known
- Heavy feeling in the jaw
- loose teeth
- pain, swelling, or numbness in the mouth or jaw
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- excess air or gas in the stomach or bowels
- feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings
- feeling of fullness
- lack or loss of strength
- passing gas
- redness, pain, itching, burning, swelling, or a lump under your skin where the shot was given
- sensation of spinning
- trouble sleeping
- upper abdominal or stomach pain
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Does Prolia weaken your immune system?
- Does Prolia increase bone density?
- How long should you take Xgeva for?
- Is Xgeva a chemotherapy drug?
- Does Xgeva cause bone pain?
- Does Xgeva cause low blood pressure?
More about denosumab
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Patient Tips
- Drug Interactions
- En Español
- 270 Reviews
- Drug class: miscellaneous bone resorption inhibitors