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Generic name: etidronatee-ti-DROE-nate ]
Drug class: Bisphosphonates

Medically reviewed by Philip Thornton, DipPharm. Last updated on Feb 19, 2024.

What is Didronel?

Didronel is a bisphosphonate medicine that alters bone formation and breakdown in the body. This can slow bone loss and may help prevent bone fractures.

Didronel is used to treat Paget's disease of bone.

Didronel is also used to treat conditions of irregular bone growth due to total hip replacement or spinal cord injury.


You should not take Didronel if you have a condition called osteomalacia (softening of the bones).

Take Didronel with a full glass (6 to 8 ounces) of water. Use only plain water (not mineral water) when taking a tablet. For at least the first 2 hours after taking the tablet, do not eat or drink anything other than plain water, and do not take any other medicines including vitamins or mineral supplements.

Especially avoid drinking milk or eating dairy products within 2 hours after taking Didronel. Also avoid taking supplements that contain calcium, magnesium, iron, or aluminum (such as in multivitamins with iron, and in many types of antacids)

Before taking this medicine

You should not take Didronel if you are allergic to etidronate, or if you have a condition called osteomalacia (softening of the bones).

To make sure this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

In rare cases, this medicine may cause bone loss (osteonecrosis) in the jaw. Symptoms include jaw pain or numbness, red or swollen gums, loose teeth, or slow healing after dental work. The longer you use Didronel, the more likely you are to develop this condition.

Osteonecrosis of the jaw may be more likely if you have cancer or received chemotherapy, radiation, or steroids. Other risk factors include blood clotting disorders, anemia (low red blood cells), and a pre existing dental problem.

Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of using Didronel.

It is not known whether etidronate will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

It is not known whether etidronate passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take Didronel?

Didronel is usually taken once per day. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

When taking this medicine for total hip replacement, you may need to start the medicine 1 month before your surgery.

Take Didronel at least 2 hours before you eat or drink anything, especially foods that are high in calcium such as milk, cheese, or yogurt.

Your doctor will need to check your progress while you are using this medicine.

Didronel is only part of a complete program of treatment that may also include diet changes and taking calcium and vitamin supplements. Follow your doctor's instructions very closely.

Pay special attention to your dental hygiene while taking etidronate. Brush and floss your teeth regularly. If you need to have any dental work (especially surgery), tell the dentist ahead of time that you are using this medicine.

Your doctor will determine how long to treat you with this medicine. Didronel is often given for only 3 to 6 months.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

After you stop taking Didronel, you must stay off the medication for at least 90 days before starting treatment again.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What to avoid

Avoid taking any other medicines for at least 2 hours after taking etidronate. This includes vitamins, calcium, and antacids. Some medicines can make it harder for your body to absorb etidronate.

Didronel side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Didronel: hives; wheezing, difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using this medicine and call your doctor at once if you have:

Common Didronel side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Didronel?

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with etidronate, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Didronel only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.