Compare Actonel vs. Fosamax

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Actonel
(risedronate)

Fosamax
(alendronate)

Prevents bone loss. Actonel (risedronate) is a first-choice treatment for osteoporosis and is available as a generic, but taking it can be a hassle.Prevents bone loss. Fosamax (alendronate) is a first-choice treatment for osteoporosis, but taking it can be a hassle.
Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
3.78Actonel
Reviews for Actonel
36%
of people (All ages) say Actonel is worth it
19%
say it works well
25%
say it's a big hassle
Have you used Actonel (risedronate)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Fosamax
43%
-7% worse vs. Actonel
30%
-11% worse vs. Actonel
19%
-6% worse vs. Actonel
169 reviews
Have you used Fosamax (alendronate)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
ActonelFosamax
  • Infection 1%
  • Back pain 2%
  • Joint pain 2%
  • Stomach pain 2%
  • Traumatic bone fracture 3%
  • High blood pressure 1%
More Actonel side effects »
  • Abdominal pain 2%
  • Bone, muscle or joint pain 1%
  • Diarrhea 1%
  • Gas 2%
  • Headache 1%
  • Constipation 1%
  • Ulcer in esophagus 2%
More Fosamax side effects »
How it works
ActonelFosamax
Actonel (risedronate) is a bisphosphonate. It slows down osteoclasts, which are the cells that break down bone. This results in greater bone mass, and lowers the possibility of fractures.Fosamax (alendronate) is a bisphosphonate, which inhibits bone breakdown.
Type of medication
ActonelFosamax
Prescription onlyPrescription only
Available as
ActonelFosamax
  • Pill
  • Pill
  • Effervescent tablet
  • Liquid
Used for
ActonelFosamax
Risk factors for serious side effects
ActonelFosamax
  • History of ulcers, or other stomach or esophageal problems
  • History of difficulty swallowing
  • Unable to sit upright or stand for 30 minutes after taking the medicine
  • Oral or dental surgery
  • Cancer
Detailed Actonel (risedronate) risks & warnings »
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen, and naproxen
  • History of ulcers or stomach or esophageal conditions
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Problems sitting or standing for at least 30 minutes
  • Oral or dental surgery
Detailed Fosamax (alendronate) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

Food
ActonelFosamax
  • Although rare, breakdown of the jawbone has happened in people taking Actonel (risedronate). This is more likely to happen if you have oral or dental surgery, or if you have poor oral hygiene. If you notice pain or swelling in your jaw, talk to your doctor right away. Also, tell your surgeon that you are taking Actonel (risedronate) prior to any oral/dental procedures.
No food related info.
Pain
ActonelFosamax
  • Talk to your doctor if you have pain with swallowing, pain in your chest or stomach, or new or worsening heartburn.
  • Fosamax (alendronate) can cause bone and muscle pain. However, this is very rare. Stop taking the medication and talk to your doctor if this happens to you.
  • Fosamax (alendronate) can cause fractures in the legs as a result of little or no force. This is rare. If you notice a new dull or aching pain in your hips or thighs, talk to your doctor right away.
Upsides and benefits
ActonelFosamax
  • Actonel (risedronate) is one of the first choice medicines to treat osteoporosis.
  • It is available in generic.
  • It is available in tablets that can be taken by mouth once or twice a month, once a week, or once a day.
  • First choice to treat osteoporosis
  • Lowers your risk of fractures due to osteoporosis.
  • Available generic.
  • Available as daily, weekly, or twice weekly dosing.
  • Comes as a regular tablet, an oral solution, or effervescent tablet.
Downsides and risks
ActonelFosamax
  • You have to take Actonel (risedronate) first thing in the morning with a full glass of water.
  • You have to remain upright for at least 30 minutes after you take it, which can be a problem if you have trouble moving.
  • Can harm your esophagus if you don't remain upright for 30 minutes after taking it.
  • Not recommended for people who can't sit or stand upright for at least 30 minutes.
  • Can increase the risk of atypical fractures.
  • Can cause bad heartburn or stomach problems.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
ActonelFosamax
  • If you're taking the immediate release medicine, take it first thing when you wake up by swallowing the whole pill with a full glass of water.
  • Remain sitting or standing, and don't take any other medications, vitamins, or supplements for at least 30 minutes after you take Actonel (risedronate).
  • If you forget to take your dose, skip it and take it the following morning.
  • Keep taking your calcium and vitamin D.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have pain with swallowing, pain in your chest or stomach, or new or worsening heartburn.
  • If you develop pain in your jaw, hips, or thighs, call your doctor.
  • Take first thing in the morning with a full glass of water.
  • Avoid eating or drinking for 30 minutes after taking Fosamax (alendronate).
  • Remain upright for 30 minutes after taking Fosamax (alendronate).
  • Talk to your doctor if you develop pain around jaw, throat, chest, abdomen, hips or thighs.
  • Let your doctor know if you have any major dental procedures coming up. You may need to temporarily stop taking Fosamax (alendronate).
  • Dissolve the effervescent tablet in 4 ounces of plain water. When solution stops fizzing, wait 5 minutes before stirring for 10 seconds and drinking.
Learn more
More about ActonelSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Actonel (risedronate)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about FosamaxSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Fosamax (alendronate)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it