Medically reviewed on December 4, 2017
What is zoledronic acid?
Zoledronic acid (sometimes called zoledronate) is a bisphosphonate (bis FOS fo nayt) medicine that alters bone formation and breakdown in the body. This can slow bone loss and may help prevent bone fractures.
Reclast and Zometa are two different brands of zoledronic acid.
Reclast is used to treat osteoporosis caused by menopause, steroid use, or gonadal failure. This medicine is for use when you have a high risk of bone fracture due to osteoporosis. Reclast is also used to treat Paget's disease of bone.
Zometa is used to treat high blood levels of calcium caused by cancer (also called hypercalcemia of malignancy). Zometa also treats multiple myeloma (a type of bone marrow cancer) or bone cancer that has spread from elsewhere in the body.
You should not use Reclast and Zometa at the same time.
Zoledronic acid may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Zoledronic acid may harm an unborn baby. Avoid getting pregnant while using this medicine and tell your doctor if you become pregnant.
Zoledronic acid can cause serious kidney problems, especially if you are dehydrated, if you take diuretic medicine, or if you already have kidney disease. Call your doctor if you urinate less than usual, if you have swelling in your feet or ankles, or if you feel tired or short of breath.
Before taking this medicine
You should not be treated with zoledronic acid if you are allergic to it.
You also should not receive Reclast if you have:
low levels of calcium in your blood (hypocalcemia); or
severe kidney disease.
To make sure zoledronic acid is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:
thyroid or parathyroid surgery;
surgery to remove part of your intestine;
any condition that makes it hard for your body to absorb nutrients from food (malabsorption); or
a dental problem (you may need a dental exam before you receive zoledronic acid).
Zoledronic acid can cause serious kidney problems, especially if you are dehydrated, if you take diuretic medicine, or if you already have kidney disease.
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 zoledronic acid, 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.
Zoledronic acid may harm an unborn baby. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant. You may also need to use birth control for several weeks after you last received zoledronic acid. This medicine can have long-lasting effects on your body.
Zoledronic acid can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.
How is zoledronic acid given?
Zoledronic acid is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.
Zoledronic acid is sometimes given as a single dose only one time. It may also be given once every 1 or 2 years. How often you receive zoledronic acid will depend on why you are using this medicine. Follow your doctor's instructions.
Drink at least 2 glasses of water within a few hours before your injection to keep from getting dehydrated.
You may need frequent medical tests to help your doctor determine how long to treat you with zoledronic acid. Your kidney function may also need to be checked.
Pay special attention to your dental hygiene while using zoledronic acid. 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 zoledronic acid.
Zoledronic acid 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.
Your doctor will determine how long to treat you with this medicine. Zoledronic acid is often given for only 3 to 5 years.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your zoledronic acid injection.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while receiving zoledronic acid?
Avoid smoking, or try to quit. Smoking can reduce your bone mineral density, making fractures more likely.
Avoid drinking large amounts of alcohol. Heavy drinking can also cause bone loss.
Zoledronic acid side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; wheezing, chest tightness, trouble breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
new or unusual pain in your thigh or hip;
jaw pain, numbness, or swelling;
kidney problems--little or no urination, swelling in your feet or ankles, feeling tired or short of breath;
severe joint, bone, or muscle pain; or
low calcium levels--muscle spasms or contractions, numbness or tingly feeling (around your mouth, or in your fingers and toes).
Serious side effects on the kidneys may be more likely in older adults.
Common side effects may include:
bone pain, muscle or joint pain;
fever or other flu symptoms;
pain in your arms or legs;
red or puffy eyes;
headache, tiredness; or
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.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect zoledronic acid?
Zoledronic acid can harm your kidneys. This effect is increased when you also use certain other medicines, including: antivirals, chemotherapy, injected antibiotics, medicine for bowel disorders, medicine to prevent organ transplant rejection, injectable osteoporosis medication, and some pain or arthritis medicines (including aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, and Aleve).
Other drugs may interact with zoledronic acid, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 16.02.
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- Drug class: bisphosphonates