FOSAMAX Once Weekly Tablets

Active ingredients: Alendronic acid

Contraindications

  • Hypersensitivity to the active substance or to any of the excipients listed in section 6.1.
  • Abnormalities of the oesophagus and other factors which delay oesophageal emptying such as stricture or achalasia.
  • Inability to stand or sit upright for at least 30 minutes.
  • Hypocalcaemia.

Special warnings and precautions for use

Upper gastrointestinal adverse reactions

Alendronate can cause local irritation of the upper gastro-intestinal mucosa. Because there is a potential for worsening of the underlying disease, caution should be used when alendronate is given to patients with active upper gastro-intestinal problems, such as dysphagia, oesophageal disease, gastritis, duodenitis, ulcers, or with a recent history (within the previous year) of major gastro-intestinal disease such as peptic ulcer, or active gastro-intestinal bleeding, or surgery of the upper gastro-intestinal tract other than pyloroplasty (see section 4.3). In patients with known Barrett’s oesophagus, prescribers should consider the benefits and potential risks of alendronate on an individual patient basis.

Oesophageal reactions (sometimes severe and requiring hospitalisation), such as oesophagitis, oesophageal ulcers and oesophageal erosions, rarely followed by oesophageal stricture, have been reported in patients receiving alendronate. Physicians should therefore be alert to any signs or symptoms signalling a possible oesophageal reaction and patients should be instructed to discontinue alendronate and seek medical attention if they develop symptoms of oesophageal irritation such as dysphagia, pain on swallowing or retrosternal pain, new or worsening heartburn (see section 4.8).

The risk of severe oesophageal adverse experiences appears to be greater in patients who fail to take alendronate properly and/or who continue to take alendronate after developing symptoms suggestive of oesophageal irritation. It is very important that the full dosing instructions are provided to, and understood by the patient (see section 4.2). Patients should be informed that failure to follow these instructions may increase their risk of oesophageal problems.

While no increased risk was observed in extensive clinical trials, there have been rare (post-marketing) reports of gastric and duodenal ulcers, some severe and with complications (see section 4.8).

Osteonecrosis of the jaw

Osteonecrosis of the jaw, generally associated with tooth extraction and/or local infection (including osteomyelitis), has been reported in patients with cancer who are receiving treatment regimens including primarily intravenously administered bisphosphonates. Many of these patients were also receiving chemotherapy and corticosteroids. Osteonecrosis of the jaw has also been reported in patients with osteoporosis receiving oral bisphosphonates.

The following risk factors should be considered when evaluating an individual’s risk of developing osteonecrosis of the jaw:

  • potency of the bisphosphonate (highest for zoledronic acid), route of administration (see above) and cumulative dose
  • cancer, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, corticosteroids, angiogenesis inhibitors, smoking
  • a history of dental disease, poor oral hygiene, periodontal disease, invasive dental procedures and poorly fitting dentures.

A dental examination with appropriate preventive dentistry should be considered prior to treatment with oral bisphosphonates in patients with poor dental status.

While on treatment, these patients should avoid invasive dental procedures if possible. For patients who develop osteonecrosis of the jaw while on bisphosphonate therapy, dental surgery may exacerbate the condition. For patients requiring dental procedures, there are no data available to suggest whether discontinuation of bisphosphonate treatment reduces the risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw. Clinical judgement of the treating physician should guide the management plan of each patient based on individual benefit/risk assessment.

During bisphosphonate treatment, all patients should be encouraged to maintain good oral hygiene, receive routine dental check-ups, and report any oral symptoms such as dental mobility, pain, or swelling.

Osteonecrosis of the external auditory canal

Osteonecrosis of the external auditory canal has been reported with bisphosphonates, mainly in association with long-term therapy. Possible risk factors for osteonecrosis of the external auditory canal include steroid use and chemotherapy and/or local risk factors such as infection or trauma. The possibility of osteonecrosis of the external auditory canal should be considered in patients receiving bisphosphonates who present with ear symptoms such as pain or discharge, or chronic ear infections.

Musculoskeletal pain

Bone, joint, and/or muscle pain has been reported in patients taking bisphosphonates. In post-marketing experience, these symptoms have rarely been severe and/or incapacitating (see section 4.8). The time to onset of symptoms varied from one day to several months after starting treatment. Most patients had relief of symptoms after stopping treatment. A subset had recurrence of symptoms when rechallenged with the same medicinal product or another bisphosphonate.

Atypical fractures of the femur

Atypical subtrochanteric and diaphyseal femoral fractures have been reported with bisphosphonate therapy, primarily in patients receiving long-term treatment for osteoporosis. These transverse or short oblique, fractures can occur anywhere along the femur from just below the lesser trochanter to just above the supracondylar flare. These fractures occur after minimal or no trauma and some patients experience thigh or groin pain, often associated with imaging features of stress fractures, weeks to months before presenting with a complete femoral fracture. Fractures are often bilateral; therefore the contralateral femur should be examined in bisphosphonate-treated patients who have sustained a femoral shaft fracture. Poor healing of these fractures has also been reported. Discontinuation of bisphosphonate therapy in patients suspected to have an atypical femur fracture should be considered pending evaluation of the patient, based on an individual benefit risk assessment.

During bisphosphonate treatment patients should be advised to report any thigh, hip or groin pain and any patient presenting with such symptoms should be evaluated for an incomplete femur fracture.

Renal impairment

Alendronate is not recommended for patients with renal impairment where creatinine clearance is less than 35 ml/min, (see section 4.2).

Bone and mineral metabolism

Causes of osteoporosis other than oestrogen deficiency and ageing should be considered.

Hypocalcaemia must be corrected before initiating therapy with alendronate (see section 4.3). Other disorders affecting mineral metabolism (such as vitamin D deficiency and hypoparathyroidism) should also be effectively treated before starting this medicinal product. In patients with these conditions, serum calcium and symptoms of hypocalcaemia should be monitored during therapy with FOSAMAX.

Due to the positive effects of alendronate in increasing bone mineral, decreases in serum calcium and phosphate may occur especially in patients taking glucocorticoids in whom calcium absorption may be decreased. These are usually small and asymptomatic. However, there have been rare reports of symptomatic hypocalcaemia, which have occasionally been severe and often occurred in patients with predisposing conditions (e.g. hypoparathyroidism, vitamin D deficiency and calcium malabsorption).

Ensuring adequate calcium and vitamin D intake is particularly important in patients receiving glucocorticoids.

Excipients

This medicinal product contains lactose. Patients with rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, the Lapp lactase deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption should not take this medicinal product.

Interaction with other medicinal products and other forms of interaction

If taken at the same time, it is likely that food and beverages (including mineral water), calcium supplements, antacids, and some oral medicinal products will interfere with absorption of alendronate. Therefore, patients must wait at least 30 minutes after taking alendronate before taking any other oral medicinal product (see sections 4.2 and 5.2).

No other interactions with medicinal products of clinical significance are anticipated. A number of patients in the clinical trials received oestrogen (intravaginal, transdermal, or oral) while taking alendronate. No adverse experiences attributable to their concomitant use were identified.

Since NSAID use is associated with gastrointestinal irritation, caution should be used during concomitant use with alendronate.

Although specific interaction studies were not performed, in clinical studies alendronate was used concomitantly with a wide range of commonly prescribed medicinal products without evidence of clinical adverse interactions.

Fertility, pregnancy and lactation

Pregnancy

There are no or limited amount of data from the use of alendronate in pregnant women. Studies in animals have shown reproductive toxicity. Alendronate given during pregnancy in rats caused dystocia related to hypocalcaemia (see section 5.3).

FOSAMAX should not be used during pregnancy.

Breast-feeding

It is unknown whether alendronate/metabolites are excreted in human milk. A risk to the newborns/infants cannot be excluded. FOSAMAX should not be used during breast-feeding.

Fertility

Bisphosphonates are incorporated into the bone matrix, from which they are gradually released over a period of years. The amount of bisphosphonate incorporated into adult bone, and hence, the amount available for release back into the systemic circulation, is directly related to the dose and duration of bisphosphonate use (see section 5.2). There are no data on foetal risk in humans. However, there is a theoretical risk of foetal harm, predominantly skeletal, if a woman becomes pregnant after completing a course of bisphosphonate therapy. The impact of variables such as time between cessation of bisphosphonate therapy to conception, the particular bisphosphonate used, and the route of administration (intravenous versus oral) on the risk has not been studied.

Effects on ability to drive and use machines

FOSAMAX has no or negligible direct influence on the ability to drive and use machines. Patients may experience certain adverse reactions (for example blurred vision, dizziness and severe bone muscle or joint pain (see section 4.8)) that may influence the ability to drive and use machines.

Undesirable effects

Summary of the safety profile

In a one-year study in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis the overall safety profiles of FOSAMAX Once Weekly 70 mg (n=519) and alendronate 10 mg/day (n=370) were similar.

In two three-year studies of virtually identical design, in postmenopausal women (alendronate 10 mg: n=196, placebo: n=397) the overall safety profiles of alendronate 10 mg/day and placebo were similar.

Adverse experiences reported by the investigators as possibly, probably or definitely drug-related are presented below if they occurred in ≥1% in either treatment group in the one-year study, or in ≥1% of patients treated with alendronate 10 mg/day and at a greater incidence than in patients given placebo in the three-year studies:

 One-Year StudyThree-Year Studies
FOSAMAX Once Weekly 70 mg (n=519) %Alendronate 10 mg/day (n=370) %Alendronate 10 mg/day (n=196) %Placebo (n=397) %
Gastro-intestinal
Abdominal pain3.73.06.64.8
Dyspepsia2.72.23.63.5
Acid regurgitation1.92.42.04.3
Nausea1.92.43.64.0
Abdominal distention1.01.41.00.8
Constipation0.81.63.11.8
Diarrhoea0.60.53.11.8
Dysphagia0.40.51.00.0
Flatulence0.41.62.60.5
Gastritis0.21.10.51.3
Gastric ulcer0.01.10.00.0
Oesophageal ulcer0.00.01.50.0
Musculoskeletal
Musculoskeletal (bone, muscle or joint) pain2.93.24.12.5
Muscle cramp0.21.10.01.0
Neurological
Headache0.40.32.61.5

Tabulated list of adverse reactions

The following adverse experiences have also been reported during clinical studies and/or post-marketing use:

Frequencies are defined as: Very common (≥1/10), Common (≥1/100, <1/10), Uncommon (≥1/1,000, <1/100), Rare (≥1/10,000, <1/1,000), Very rare (<1/10,000 including isolated cases)

Immune system disorders

Rare: hypersensitivity reactions including urticaria and angioedema

Metabolism and nutrition disorders

Rare: symptomatic hypocalcaemia, often in association with predisposing conditions§

Nervous system disorders

Common: headache, dizziness†

Uncommon: dysgeusia†

Eye disorders

Uncommon: eye inflammation (uveitis, scleritis, or episcleritis)

Ear and labyrinth disorders

Common: vertigo†

Very Rare: osteonecrosis of the external auditory canal (bisphosphonate class adverse reaction)

Gastrointestinal disorders

Common: abdominal pain, dyspepsia, constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence, oesophageal ulcer*, dysphagia*, abdominal distension, acid regurgitation

Uncommon: nausea, vomiting, gastritis, oesophagitis*, oesophageal erosions*, melena†

Rare: oesophageal stricture*, oropharyngeal ulceration*, upper gastrointestinal PUBs (perforation, ulcers, bleeding) §

Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders

Common: alopecia†, pruritus†

Uncommon: rash, erythema

Rare: rash with photosensitivity, severe skin reactions including Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis‡

Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders

Very Common: musculoskeletal (bone, muscle or joint) pain which is sometimes severe†§

Common: joint swelling†

Rare: osteonecrosis of the jaw‡§; atypical subtrochanteric and diaphyseal femoral fractures (bisphosphonate class adverse reaction)

General disorders and administration site conditions

Common: asthenia†, peripheral oedema†

Uncommon: transient symptoms as in an acute-phase response (myalgia, malaise and rarely, fever), typically in association with initiation of treatment†

§ See section 4.4
Frequency in Clinical Trials was similar in the medicinal product and placebo group.
* See sections 4.2 and 4.4
This adverse reaction was identified through post-marketing surveillance. The frequency of rare was estimated based on relevant clinical trials.

Reporting of suspected adverse reactions

Reporting suspected adverse reactions after authorisation of the medicinal product is important. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions via the Yellow Card Scheme at: www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard or search for MHRA Yellow Card in the Google Play or Apple App Store.

Incompatibilities

Not applicable.