There is no single “silver bullet” remedy for osteoporosis. It takes a whole-person approach. Get enough dietary calcium, take vitamin D, participate in regular exercise, fall-proof at home, and avoid smoking and excess alcohol.
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or had a fracture from a fall at standing height, talk with your healthcare provider about medication options.
Choosing the Right Osteoporosis Medication
There are many things to think about when choosing the right osteoporosis medicine. You and your healthcare provider may consider:
Your sex. Some osteoporosis medications are approved for both men and women, while some are approved for women only. Visit our Medications and Treatment Adherence page for further details about which medications are appropriate for women and for men.
Your age. Some medicines are best for younger postmenopausal women while others are best for older women. Osteoporosis medication is not recommended for healthy premenopausal women. However, young women who take medications or have disorders known to cause bone loss and fractures may benefit from osteoporosis treatment. For example, medication could be right for a premenopausal woman experiencing low-trauma fractures while on long-term high-dose corticosteroids to manage an autoimmune disease such as lupus.
How much bone you’ve lost. Osteoporosis medicines work in different ways. A person with more severe bone loss or multiple broken bones may be recommended a different medicine than a person with less bone loss or no fractures.
Your overall health. Your healthcare provider will consider other health problems you have when recommending a medicine. For example, if you have had breast cancer or blood clots, you should not take estrogen. Or if your bones have been exposed to radiation treatment, you should not take teriparatide (Forteo®) or abaloparatide (Tymlos).
Your personal preferences. Do you prefer a pill, liquid, or medicine that is given as an injection? Does it work better for you to take your medicine every day, once a week, once a month, twice a year, or once a year? Do you have negative feelings about a particular drug? These factors can influence your treatment decision. No two people are the same. How well a medicine works, or what side effects it will have, can vary from one person to the next.
Paying for Your Medication
Osteoporosis medications require a prescription from your healthcare provider. How much your insurance company pays for an osteoporosis medication depends on the type of insurance plan you have. You may have a co-pay and this copay may vary depending on the drug you are prescribed and whether a generic form is available. To find out what your insurance company covers, call or check their website.
Financial Assistance Programs
Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Benefit: Medicare pays for prescription drugs through the Medicare Prescription Drug benefit, also called “Medicare Part D.” This benefit is available to everyone with Medicare and may help lower the cost of your prescription drugs. You must sign up for Medicare Part D. You can do this during the yearly open season between November 15th and December 31st. You can also sign up the year you turn 65 (3 months before or after your birthday). Review the Medicare website for answers to important questions that will help you during the Annual Open Enrollment Period.
Extra Help with Medicare Part D: If you have Medicare and limited income and resources, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may be able to help you cover the costs of your Medicare prescription drug plan through their Extra Help program. SSA can also help you find organizations in your community to help you to enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan. Contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 or visit www.socialsecurity.gov.
Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation: The Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation is an independent, national non-profit organization dedicated to helping federally and commercially insured people living with life-threatening, chronic and rare diseases with the out-of-pocket costs for their prescribed medications. For more information about the PAN Foundation’s Postmenopausal Osteoporosis assistance program, visit panfoundation.org/patients/assistance-programs or call 1-866-316-7263.
HealthWell Foundation: The HealthWell Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to improving access to care for America’s underinsured. When health insurance is not enough, the HealthWell Foundation helps fill the gap by assisting with copays, premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. Learn more about their postmenopausal osteoporosis disease fund by visiting healthwellfoundation.org or calling 1-800-675-8416.
NeedyMeds: NeedyMeds is a search tool that provides information on assistance available for individual medications, Medicare state programs, a drug discount card and more. Visit www.NeedyMeds.com to learn more.
RxAssist: RxAssist is a nationally recognized, web based medication assistance resource center. You can search the RXAssist website to find discounts or assistance programs available for the medications you take, including a prescription savings card.
Benefits CheckUp®: BenefitsCheckUp® is a free service of the National Council on Aging. Their team monitors the benefits landscape for updates and changes to policies and programs. We match your unique needs to benefit programs and eligibility requirements using our comprehensive tool.
Medications Administered by a Healthcare Professional
Most insurance companies cover medications administered by a healthcare professional in a medical office or hospital (such as a drug that is given by intravenous infusion). The amount you pay for the prescribed medication is different from what you might pay for a medication you pick up at the pharmacy. If your provider prescribes an osteoporosis medication that must be given in a healthcare professional’s office through an intravenous infusion or injection, check with your insurance company to find out how much of the cost they will cover.
Types of medication given in a healthcare provider’s office or infusion center may include ibandronate (Boniva®), denosumab (Prolia®), and zoledronic acid (Reclast®)
Buying Medication Online
While many people shop online for their medicines to save money, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that the practice is risky. It sometimes costs more than generic medications that are available at pharmacies in the U.S. Safety concerns about buying medicines online include:
- Medicines may be counterfeit (fake) or not the drug ordered.
- Medicines may be made under conditions that are not clean or sterile.
- Medicines may contain harmful substances.
- Labels may not have warning information that is needed for the medicine to be used safely.
- Information about the amount you should take may be different.
The FDA provides guidelines to help people decide whether a website selling medicines is safe. Websites selling medicines should:
- Be located in the U.S.
- Be licensed by the state board of pharmacy where the Web site is operating. Visit nabp.pharmacy for a list of state boards of pharmacy.
- Have a licensed pharmacist available to personally answer questions.
- Require a prescription from your doctor or other healthcare provider who is licensed to prescribe medicines.
- Provide contact and/or customer service information.
The FDA recommends looking for the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS®) Seal on web sites selling medicines. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) gives a seal of approval to internet pharmacy sites that apply and meet state license requirements and other VIPPS® requirements.
For additional information, read the FDA’s article on The Possible Dangers of Buying Medicine Online. Read this article.
Last Reviewed 12/17/2019