Compare Fosamax vs. Actonel

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

Fosamax
(Alendronate)

Actonel
(Risedronate)

Prevents bone loss. Fosamax (Alendronate) is a first-choice treatment for osteoporosis and is available as a generic, but taking it can be a hassle.Prevents bone loss. Actonel (Risedronate) is a first-choice treatment for osteoporosis and is available as a generic, but how you have to take it can be a hassle.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
4.291666666666667Fosamax
Reviews for Fosamax (Alendronate)
43%
of people say Fosamax (Alendronate) is worth it
30%
say it works well
18%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Actonel (Risedronate)
36%
7% vs. Fosamax (Alendronate)
19%
11% vs. Fosamax (Alendronate)
25%
7% vs. Fosamax (Alendronate)
Side effects
FosamaxActonel

We haven’t found good data for Fosamax side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Fosamax »

We haven’t found good data for Actonel side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Actonel »
How it works
FosamaxActonel
Fosamax (Alendronate) is a bisphosphonate. It slows down osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone. This results in greater bone mass and lowers the possibility of fractures.Actonel (Risedronate) is a bisphosphonate. It slows down osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone. This results in greater bone mass and lowers the possibility of fractures.
Type of medication
FosamaxActonel
BisphosphonatePrescription only
BisphosphonatePrescription only
Available as
FosamaxActonel
  • Pill
  • Effervescent tablet
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Extended release
Used for (click to learn more)
FosamaxActonel
Risk factors for serious side effects
FosamaxActonel
      • Oral or dental surgery
      • Cancer
      • Poor oral hygiene
          Detailed Fosamax (Alendronate) risks & warnings »
              • Oral or dental surgery
              • Cancer
              • Poor oral hygiene
                  Detailed Actonel (Risedronate) risks & warnings »
                  Pregnancy category
                  FosamaxActonel
                  CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

                  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.

                  See the FDA package insert
                  CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

                  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.

                  See the FDA package insert
                  Alcohol
                  No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
                  Food
                  No specific food-related info.
                  • If you're taking the extended release medication, take it after your first meal of the day with at least a half cup of water.
                  Kidneys and liver
                  No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
                  Sex
                  No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
                  Sleep
                  No specific sleep-related info.No specific sleep-related info.
                  Weight
                  No specific weight-related info.
                  • Consider adding weight-bearing exercises as part of your exercise routine.
                  Upsides and benefits
                  FosamaxActonel
                  • Lowers your risk of bone fractures.
                  • Available as a generic medication.
                  • Available in two forms: one that can be taken once a day or another that's taken once a week.
                  • Comes as a regular tablet, an oral solution, or effervescent tablets meant to be dissolved in water.
                  • Available in generic.
                  • Available in oral tablets that can be taken once or twice a month, once a week, or once a day.
                  Downsides and risks
                  FosamaxActonel
                  • You need to take it the first thing in the morning with a full glass of water.
                  • Not good for people who can't sit or stand upright for at least 30 minutes in the morning.
                  • The use of bisphosphonates increases your risk of other types of fractures not related to osteoporosis (called atypical fractures).
                  • Can cause bad heartburn or stomach problems.
                  • You have to take it first thing in the morning with a full glass of water.
                  • You have to remain upright for at least 30 minutes after you take the medication, which can be a problem if you have mobility issues.
                  Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
                  FosamaxActonel
                  • Take Fosamax (Alendronate) first thing in the morning with a full glass of water before eating or drinking anything else, including other medicines.
                  • The pill must be swallowed whole.
                  • Stay upright for at least 30 minutes after taking the medicine, and don't eat or drink anything except plain water during that time.
                  • Make sure you take enough calcium and vitamin D to allow this medicine to work.
                  • Can cause an upset stomach, joint pain, back pain, or heartburn.
                  • Stop taking the medicine and let your doctor know if swallowing becomes painful, if you have chest pain, or if any of the side effects worsen.
                  • If you have dental work coming up, get it done before starting this medicine since some people have experienced serious jaw problems while on Fosamax (Alendronate).
                  • If you're taking the fast release medication, take it first thing when you wake up by swallowing the whole pill with a full glass of water.
                  • Don't eat or drink anything for 30 minutes after you've taken the fast release medication.
                  • If you're taking the extended release medication, take it after your first meal of the day with at least a half cup of water.
                  • Stay sitting or standing and Don't take any other medications, vitamins or supplements for at least 30 minutes after you take the medication.
                  • If you have pain with swallowing, around your chest or stomach, or new or worsening heartburn, talk to your doctor.
                  • Call your doctor if you develop pain in your jaw, hips or thighs.
                  • Keep taking your calcium and vitamin D.
                  • If you forget to take your dose, skip it and take it the following morning.
                  • Some of these medications are only taken once or twice a month, others are taken once a week and others once a day. Talk to your pharmacist if you're not sure.
                  • Consider adding weight-bearing exercises as part of your exercise routine.
                  Learn more
                  More about FosamaxSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
                  More about ActonelSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert