Due to the diagnosis of certain conditions or as a result of undergoing treatments that cause bone loss, some people may need to take medication that includes zoledronic acid to prevent further injury.
Zoledronic acid, which can also be known as zoledronate and sold under brand names like Reclast or Zometa, can be taken in order to help prevent bones from weakening or losing density.
Conditions that can be improved when treated with zoledronic acid include:
- Osteoporosis. This may be due to menopause, gonadal failure or some steroid use, and causes bones to become more brittle and increases the risk of fracture.
- Cancer. Some types can cause hypercalcemia, or elevated levels of calcium in the blood, which also contributes to bone weakness. Bone cancer or bone marrow cancer can also cause bones to break down.
- Paget’s disease of bone (PDB). This disease causes bones to become more fragile or may result in misshapen bones when not properly treated.
Some forms of zoledronic acid may work better than others for certain conditions. If a person is being treated with one form of zoledronic acid, they should not be given a different form at the same time. While zoledronic acid does not cure a person of any disease, it can significantly slow the effects a disease has on bone tissue.
Side Effects and Risks Associated with Zoledronic Acid
As a medication that is administered by intravenous injection, discomfort or soreness at the site of injection can occur. Some people report they experience flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches, fever or fatigue after the first infusion, but it is considered uncommon to experience those same symptoms after subsequent injections.
Other mild or moderate side effects may include anemia or swelling in the lower extremities. Proper hydration prior to receiving an injection of zoledronic acid can help prevent a serious risk of kidney impairment. Your doctor may test your levels of calcium or vitamin D before or after receiving the injection to monitor any risks associated with lower levels of calcium and Vitamin D in the bloodstream.
A rare but serious complication may occur in some patients who have undergone treatment for cancer and who have had dental extractions. Your doctor should be fully informed of medical history, including dental work, if you have been treated for cancer and are prescribed zoledronic acid injections.
Medicare Coverage for Zoledronic Acid
Medicare recipients must consider several coverage scenarios when trying to determine if a medication may be covered by their Medicare benefits. In most cases, prescription drugs are only covered under a Part D Prescription Drug Plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage. Exceptions include some medications that are administered in an outpatient or hospital setting that have been deemed medically necessary to treat a qualifying condition.
Medicare recipients who are prescribed zoledronic acid as an outpatient treatment, Medicare Part B may cover some of the cost of your care and medication. There may be a copay or coinsurance amount that applies, as well as a deductible amount that must be met before costs are covered by Medicare.
If your physician administers zoledronic acid injections while you are admitted for a hospital stay or in a skilled nursing facility, coverage terms through Medicare Part A may apply.