What is Aredia?
Aredia (pamidronate) is used to treat hypercalcemia (excess calcium in the blood) that may occur with some types of cancer. It is also used to treat Paget's disease, a medical condition in which the body replaces healthy bones with weak bones, as well as to treat bone metastasis (spread of cancer).
Aredia is an intravenous bisphosphonate drug made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1994.
Aredia and Osteonecrosis of the Jaw
In September 2004, Novartis Pharmaceuticals and the FDA notified dental healthcare professionals of revisions to prescribing information to describe the occurrence of Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ) observed in cancer patients receiving treatment with intravenous bisphosphonates (such as Aredia). ONJ is a medical condition in which the jawbone partially crumbles and dies. ONJ may cause severe pain, loose teeth, exposed bone, loss of function, and disfigurement.
The revised prescribing information recommends that cancer patients receive a dental examination prior to starting bisphosphonate treatment, and that they avoid invasive dental procedures while on these medications.
Because Aredia is administered intravenously, it should only be administered by or under the supervision of your doctor or healthcare professional. Follow your healthcare professional's orders regarding Aredia dosing.
It is important that your healthcare professional check your progress at regular visits after you start taking Aredia, even if your condition improves. For patients using Aredia to treat hypercalcemia, your healthcare professional may recommend following a low-calcium diet.
Aredia Health Risks and Side Effects
Aredia may cause side effects. Tell your healthcare professional if any of these symptoms are severe and/or persistent:
- Bone, joint, or muscle pain
- Slight fever
- Loss of appetite
- Upset stomach
- Stomach pain
- Increased sweating
Tell your healthcare professional immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Eye pain, swelling, itching, or redness
- Blurred vision or changes in vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Sore throat, high fever, chills, cough, or other signs of infection
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
- Black and tarry stools
- Red blood in stools
- Bloody vomit
- Vomiting material that looks like coffee grounds
- Shortness of breath or fast breathing
- Chest pain
- Numbness or tingling in the arms, legs, lips, tongue, or the area around the mouth
- Muscle cramps, spasms, or sudden muscle tightening
- Personality changes
- Difficult, frequent, or painful urination
- Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- Difficulty swallowing
What Should I Tell My Healthcare Professional?
You should tell your healthcare professional if you:
- Have or had any unusual allergic reaction to Aredia or other bisphosphonate drugs that are used to treat osteoporosis; or if you are allergic to any other substances (foods, preservatives, or dyes).
- Are or may be pregnant, are planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. Studies in rats given higher doses of Aredia have shown decreased fertility, increased length of pregnancy, and death of the baby rat. Aredia has not been studied in pregnant women, and it is unknown if Aredia passes into breast milk.
- Have blood problems, such as anemia, leukopenia, or thrombocytopenia
- Have heart problems
- Have kidney problems
Are There Any Interactions With Drugs or Foods?
Aredia and certain other medicines can interact with each other. Tell your healthcare professional about all the medicines you take -- including prescription and non-prescription medicines.
Before taking Aredia, it is important to tell your healthcare professional if you take any of the following:
- Calcium-containing preparations
- Vitamin D-containing preparations
- Anti-infectives (medicine for infection) by mouth or by injection
- Carmustine (BiCNU)
- Cisplatin (Platinol)
- Combination pain medicine containing acetaminophen and aspirin (e.g., Excedrin) or other salicylates (with large amounts taken regularly)
- Cyclosporine (e.g., Sandimmune)
- Deferoxamine (e.g., Deserfal) (with long-term use)
- Gold salts (medicine for arthritis)
- Inflammation or pain medicine except narcotics
- Lithium (e.g., Lithane)
- Methotrexate (e.g., Rheumatrex, Trexall)
- Penicillamine (e.g. Cuprimine)
- Plicamycin (e.g., Mithracin)
- Tiopronin (e.g., Thiola)
Aredia - Getting Legal Help
While all medications have certain anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to make its products as reasonably safe as possible, and to inform the medical community and the public of known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held legally responsible if patients are injured as the result of inadequate warnings or the unreasonably dangerous nature of the drug, under a legal theory called "product liability."
If you or a loved one have experienced any dangerous symptoms or unusual medical conditions while taking Aredia, you should first contact your doctor or other healthcare professional. You may also wish to meet with an experienced attorney to discuss your options and to protect your right to a legal remedy for any injuries caused by Aredia use.