Boniva is a once-monthly pill used to treat and prevent osteoporosis in women after menopause. Boniva is manufactured by Roche Laboratories and was approved by the FDA in 2003. The medication is also available in liquid form for injection.

Osteoporosis medications, like Boniva, belong to the family of drugs called bisphosphonates. In addition to osteoporosis prevention and treatment, bisphosphonates are used to treat Paget’s disease and certain cancers. Besides Boniva, many different bisphosphonates are available on the market, including Fosamax, Actonel, Aredia, and Zometa. 

How Boniva Works

Boniva works by increasing bone mass and by slowing bone loss in most women who take it. This process strengthens bones and may help prevent bone fractures. However, for Boniva to treat or prevent osteoporosis, patients have to take it exactly as prescribed. Otherwise, Boniva will not work.

Women should not take Boniva if they:

  • have low blood calcium (hypocalcemia)
  • cannot sit or stand up for at least 1 hour (60 minutes) after taking Boniva
  • have kidneys that work very poorly
  • are allergic to ibandronate sodium or any of the other ingredients in Boniva

Boniva Side Effects

Although Boniva may help prevent and treat osteoporosis, it can also cause various side effects. These side effects range from mild to life-threatening. Generally, the severity of Boniva side effects depends on many factors, including each patient’s medical history and overall health.

Boniva can cause serious side effects in the stomach and esophagus. These side effects may include trouble swallowing, heartburn, and ulcers. To help prevent these side effects, Boniva should be taken with a full glass of water. To further reduce the risk of developing these side effects, patients should not eat or drink anything and remain upright for 60 minutes after taking Boniva.

Clinical studies have linked Boniva to other, more dangerous side effects. For example, Boniva can cause severe and debilitating bone, joint, and/or muscle pain as a side effect. Another side effect linked to Boniva is osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), which is also sometimes called “Dead Jaw.” While this side effect is rare, ONJ is extremely painful and is also irreversible.

Other serious side effects include:

  • chest pain
  • difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • pain or burning under the ribs or in the back
  • heartburn
  • severe musculoskeletal pain
  • jaw pain

Injured by Boniva side effects?

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Published November 17, 2011 by