Teriparatide is an osteoporosis medication prescribed to help strengthen your bones and reduce your risk of breaking a bone. It is available as a daily injection, which you do yourself. Teriparatide is prescribed for up to two years.
Teriparatide is a parathyroid hormone treatment. Parathyroid hormone is naturally produced by your body to help regulate calcium. The treatment works by increasing the activity of bone-building cells, helping your bones stay stronger.
People taking teriparatide are usually also prescribed with a vitamin D supplement, or combined calcium and vitamin D supplement.
Teriparatide 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.
Known side effects include:
- Joint pain
It’s unlikely you’ll experience any side effects. But if you do, they shouldn't last for long.
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 teriparatide 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 teriparatide. They were also reported by patients taking the placebo (dummy treatment).
Who should take teriparatide?
Teriparatide is usually prescribed for postmenopausal women, men and occasionally younger women.
Teriparatide doesn't suit everyone. It may not be the best treatment for you if:
- you had a previous allergic reaction to parathyroid hormone treatment
- you have high blood calcium levels
- you have severe kidney or liver problems
- you have another bone disease, e.g. Paget’s disease
- you’ve had radiation therapy to the skeleton
- you are pregnant or breast feeding
If you're prescribed teriparatide
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.
Our specialist nurse Helpline is here for you, if you have any questions or concerns.
The daily injection
Teriparatide comes in a pre-filled syringe pen. Each pen has 28 doses, and comes with a very fine, sterile needle for each dose. You may be prescribed one pen at a time, or multiple pens.
You or your carer should be shown how to use the injection pen when you are first prescribed.
Teriparatide should be injected at the same time each day, under the skin. Take care to insert a new needle before each injection.
To get the full benefits, teriparatide should be taken regularly as instructed by your doctor or pharmacist.
It's normal to find this a bit daunting, but nurses are on-hand to help you, as you get used to it. You'll also find a telephone number on your patient information leaflet, which you can call if you need any more help with the injection.
Storing your medication
When it's not being used, take care to keep your injection pen in the fridge.
If you need to take your medication away with you, you can call the number in your patient information leaflet to request a special travel bag with compartments for frozen gel packs. The back safely stores your medication at the right temperature for up to 36 hours.
If you miss a dose
Missing the odd dose is unlikely to affect your overall bone health, but you should try to avoid it.
If you continually forget or struggle to take your medication, speak to your doctor about alternative treatment options. There may be something that suits you better.
Ending your treatment
When you complete your two-year teriparatide treatment, your clinical team consider prescribing you a new osteoporosis treatment.
Whether you're prescribed a new treatment or not, and the choice of treatment, depends on:
- your individual circumstances
- the reason you were prescribed teriparatide
- whether you've had problems after taking a different osteoporosis treatment in the past
You may be asked to take a higher dose of your calcium/vitamin D supplement.
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 teriparatide is causing the symptoms, or if something else is the cause, such as another medication.