Ibandronate

ibandronic acid, Bonviva

Ibandronate is an osteoporosis medication prescribed to help strengthen your bones and reduce your risk of breaking a bone. It is available as a monthly tablet or three-monthly injection into a vein.

Ibandronate is a 'bisphosphonate' - a group of medications that work by slowing down the cells that break down bone. Bisphosphonates are the most-commonly prescribed medication for people with osteoporosis and are often the first treatment option considered by your doctor.

Ibandronate doesn't reduce the pain caused by broken bones. But don't worry - if you're experiencing pain after breaking a bone, there are medications and treatments for pain that can help you.

Who should take ibandronate?

Ibandronate is usually prescribed for postmenopausal women, men and occasionally younger women.

Ibandronate doesn't suit everyone. It may not be the best treatment for you if:

  • you have severe kidney problems
  • you are pregnant or breast feeding

If you have difficulty swallowing tablets, ibandronate in tablet form isn't suitable for you. 

If you're prescribed ibandronate

Be informed

Talk to your doctor about your medication, its side-effects and any risks. You can read the information on this page and in your patient information leaflet, so you know what to expect.

If you're taking the injection form, you can ask your doctor for a copy of the patient information leaflet.

Our specialist nurse Helpline is here for you, if you have any questions or concerns.

How to take it

If you're taking it in tablet form

Ibandronate should be taken on an empty stomach so it can be absorbed properly.

Take it first thing, and wait at least one hour before having any food, drink and any other medication, although you can have water if you wish.

It's also best to wait at least four hours after taking ibandronate before taking a calcium supplement. Calcium can affect how the medication is absorbed.

If you're taking it as an injection

This is given by a healthcare professional once every three months. In most cases, this is at a hospital or clinic, but you may be invited to your local GP practice.

How long to take it

Ibandronate is generally prescribed long term, so you need to be happy it is the right option for you. 

To get the full benefits, ibandronate should be taken regularly as instructed by your doctor or pharmacist.

It is recommended that your treatment is formally reviewed by your doctor after five years. The review checks that your benefits from taking ibandronate continue to outweigh any risks.

Possible side effects

It’s unlikely you’ll experience any side effects. But if you do, they shouldn't last for long.

Possible side effects, and how likely they are, depend on the way you are taking the medication.

Known side effects for the tablet form include:

  • Inflamed food pipe, sore throat, swallowing difficulties or heartburn
  • Bone, joint or muscle pain
  • Inflammation in the eye, eye pain or disturbed vision

Known side effects for the injection form:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headache
  • Bone, joint or muscle pain
  • Inflammation in the eye, eye pain or disturbed vision

As research progresses, the list of known side effects may change. You can find more information on each side effect and how to reduce the symptoms on the ibandronate factsheet. 

You may have seen other symptoms and side effects in your patient information leaflet. These side effects are listed because they were reported by patients in research trials, but it’s unclear if they were directly caused by ibandronate. They were also reported by patients taking the placebo (dummy treatment).

If you experience side effects

It's perfectly natural to be concerned by side effects although, in most cases, they do pass. 

The best thing to do is speak to your doctor or pharmacist. They can assess if there's a better treatment for you. They can also help you work out whether ibandronate is causing the symptoms, or if something else is the cause, such as another medication.

Health risks

There are some more-serious but very rare health conditions associated with ibandronate:

If you are prescribed ibandronate, your doctor has decided the benefit of taking the treatment outweighs any risks.

It's perfectly natural to feel concerned and unsure, but be reassured that your risk of these is very small. Our specialist nurses are here for you, if you need to talk through your concerns and find out more about your risk.