Didronel PMO (etidronate) is specifically licensed to treat Paget's disease, a serious bone-thinning condition. But so enthusiastic was the manufacturer about the benefits of its drug that it urged doctors to prescribe it for wrist and hip fractures, and to prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Unfortunately, it has never been licensed for these conditions.
It's a drug that should be taken with great care. It can cause osteomalacia, an adult form of rickets due to a lack of vitamin D. As a result, patients should also be supplementing with vitamin D, or adding more vitamin D-rich products, such as milk and dairy, to the diet.
The problem is that the patient has to get it just right. Take either too much or too little vitamin D and you likely to suffer a reaction to the drug, which can include nausea, abdominal pain, constipation, vomiting and angioedema, or fluid retention of the blood vessels.