Drug shortages with some medications – make sure you get what you need

Media releases

05 Aug 2022

We've heard that some people are having problems getting alendronic acid 70mg tablets. This is because some companies that make these tablets have run out of stock. This shortage may last until September 2022.

If you're about to start treatment

If you're about to start a bone-strengthening medication for the first time and can't get alendronate, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about other treatment options. They may offer to prescribe another bisphosphonate, such as risedronate, or a different type of treatment given as an injection.

It's important not to delay starting a treatment, particularly if tests have shown your risk of breaking a bone is very high.

If you usually take alendronate tablets

If you can't get your usual tablets, speak to your local pharmacist. There are a few possible options. Don't worry if it takes a few weeks to organise – the effect of your treatment will wear off slowly.

  • Speaking to their suppliers. Your pharmacist may be able to get alendronate tablets from a different supplier, as not all companies that make alendronate tablets have run out of stock.
  • A different form of alendronate. If your pharmacist can't get alendronate tablets at all, ask about having a different form of alendronate. For example, you may be able to get alendronate as a liquid that you swallow, or as a tablet that you dissolve in water and drink. You could then switch back to your usual tablets when supplies are normal again.
  • A similar medication. You may be offered a different bisphosphonate, such as risedronate. This is similar to alendronate and is also taken once a week.
  • A treatment break. If you've been taking alendronate for five years or more, it may be fine to stop taking it for a year or two. Your doctor or pharmacist will only suggest this if it's safe for you – this will depend on things like your age, bone mineral density (BMD), and any broken bones you've had. The benefits of your alendronate will continue for a while after you stop taking it. But you'll need to start taking it again at some point. You should discuss this with your doctor, so that you know when to start again.

We have more information on alendronic acid here.