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Rheumatology Medications

A number of types of drugs are used to treat arthritis and connective tissue disease. These generally fall into the following groups:

Rheumatology Medications FAQs

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Calcium, bisphosphonates and vitamin D

Bisphosphonates are a group of drugs used to prevent and treat osteoporosis by reducing calcium loss from the bones. They include alendronic acid (Fosamax), risedronate sodium (Actonel), ibandronic acid (Bondronat, Bonviva), disodium etidronate (Didronel; Didronel PMO) and strontium ranelate (Protelos). Usually these are taken once weekly; however some are available as a daily or monthly dosage. Tablets should be taken whole with plenty of water on an empty stomach. With some preparations it is important to remain sitting or standing for 30 minutes after treatment and to avoid food for a specified time both before and after treatment (this varies with each preparation, so please check instructions carefully).

Calcium supplements may also be prescribed: these often include Vitamin D as this increases the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D is normally produced by sunlight but supplementation may be helpful if you have, or are at risk of osteoporosis. Preparations include Adcal D3, Cacit D3, Calceos, Calcichew D3, Calcichew D3 Forte, Calfovit D3. These may be in tablet form or as chewable tablets, powders or effervescent granules. One or more tablets will be prescribed, to be taken on every day other than the day on which you take your bisphosphonate. Vitamin D (ergocalciferol) alone is sometimes given by injection into a muscle.

Some bisphosphonates, such as disodium pamidronate (Pamidronate) and zolendronic acid (Zoledronate), are given by intravenous infusion in the day unit.