Reclast is a drug that can treat and prevent osteoporosis by reducing bone loss and promoting bone formation. A person receives a reclast infusion via an intravenous infusion (IV) into a vein.

Reclast is a type of bisphosphonate drug that a healthcare professional administers through an intravenous (IV) infusion into the individual’s veins.

This article explains what type of drug Reclast is, how it helps treat osteoporosis, the success rate, and more.

An IV infusion of Reclast for osteoporosis. -1Share on Pinterest
zheng long/Stocksy

Generally, medications for osteoporosis aim to either slow down bone loss or help rebuild bone. Bisphosphonates are a first-line treatment for osteoporosis and help prevent bone loss by inhibiting a person’s body resorption of bone tissue.

Reclast is the brand name for zoledronic acid or zoledronate. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it to

  • treat and prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal females
  • increase bone mass in males with osteoporosis
  • treat and prevent osteoporosis in people taking glucocorticoids
  • to treat hypercalcemia, or high levels of calcium in the blood
  • to treat and manage Paget’s disease, where the body does not replace old bone tissue

Reclast is the most common type of infusion therapy for osteoporosis. Infusion therapy involves a medical professional administering medication through a needle or IV into the bloodstream and cardiovascular system.

Administering Reclast as an infusion therapy works by inhibiting farnesyl pyrophosphate synthase — the molecule that promotes the attachment of osteoclasts. Osteoclasts are responsible for breaking down and removing bone.

Reclast infusions can prevent bone resorption and maintain bone mass and bone mineral density (BMD).

According to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), a person should receive Reclast infusion therapy once per year to treat osteoporosis.

Learn more about osteoporosis.

Reclast is an effective treatment and should improve bone density for around 2-3 years after a person stops treatment.

Additional evidence from medical trials suggests that people who had treatment with Reclast observed a significant increase in BMD at the lumbar spine, total hip, and femoral neck.

Learn about Z-scores for bone density.

Approximately 30% of people experience flu-like symptoms after their first infusion. However, these symptoms occur in less than 7% of people after subsequent doses.

People who have treatment may also experience:

Adverse effects of Reclast may include:

Learn more about the potential side effects of infusion therapy for osteoporosis.

Reclast is an initial therapy to prevent postmenopausal osteoporosis, so people with a high fracture risk will benefit from it.

The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) defines people with a high fracture risk as the following:

  • postmenopausal females with a history of multiple fractures
  • people with fractures while having osteoporosis treatment
  • individuals with a T-score less than -3.0 (a person with a T-score of less than -2.5 has osteoporosis)
  • a person with a history of a fall resulting in an injury
  • people with a fracture while taking medication that causes skeletal damage
  • an individual who has a bone fracture that occurred in the past 12 months

A healthcare professional administers the drug as an IV infusion through the vein and directly into the bloodstream. This means people who cannot take oral bisphosphonates can benefit from Reclast.

It is important to note that a person should not take Reclast if they have:

  • low levels of calcium in their blood
  • kidney problems
  • allergies to zoledronic acid or any of its ingredients

Healthcare professionals usually recommend that people having Reclast treatment take calcium and vitamin D supplements to reduce the risk of low blood calcium levels.

Learn more about T-scores.

It is possible to take certain other medicines, vitamins, and supplements while taking Reclast.

However, certain medicines may affect how it works, so it is advisable to speak with a doctor about taking Reclast with the following medications:

  • Antibiotics: Certain antibiotics may increase the effect of Reclast in lowering a person’s blood calcium for an extended period.
  • Diuretics: Reclast can cause serious kidney problems, especially if an individual is dehydrated or taking diuretic medications.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs): NSAIDs can cause kidney toxicity or kidney problems.

Learn more about bisphosphonates for osteoporosis.

Here are some useful questions and answers about Reclast and how it can help with osteoporosis.

Is weight gain a side effect of Reclast?

Based on the manufacturer’s labeling, weight gain is typically not a side effect of concern in Reclast.

However, recent evidence suggests that postmenopausal women who receive the drug are more likely to experience slower weight loss and retained fat mass.

People with a higher risk of developing diabetes should speak with their doctor if they have concerns about weight gain during and after treatment.

Is Reclast worth the risk?

Most, if not all, medications to treat diseases will carry certain risks and have side effects. However, the benefit of taking Reclast to treat osteoporosis outweighs the risk.

A 2023 Japanese study examined people after 3 years of treatment with zoledronic acid. The results confirmed that the drug is safe and effective even years after treatment.

According to a 2019 review, people with osteoporosis tend to prefer less frequent treatments. People appear less likely to adhere to treatment routines involving taking tablets daily or more regular visits to a clinic or doctor’s surgery.

A yearly infusion of a drug such as Reclast helps ensure people maintain their treatment schedule and do not miss medication doses.

Oral bisphosphonates can cause gastrointestinal side effects. A 2016 study found that these side effects were the most common reasons participants stopped taking their medications. However, these side effects do not occur with Reclast.

What is the success rate of Reclast?

A 2021 review of research found that taking Reclast has no significant effect on fracture healing, but it does increase the changes in BMD and reduces bone resorption.

In a clinical study of 2,127 men and women ages 50–95 years with a fracture caused by osteoporosis, Reclast significantly reduced the occurrence of clinical fracture by 35%.

There was also a 46% reduction in the risk of clinical spinal fractures.

Reclast is an FDA-approved infusion therapy that involves injecting the medication directly into a person’s bloodstream to bypass barriers to absorption.

A doctor might prescribe this to someone with osteoporosis to slow bone breakdown or increase the rate of new bone growth if they are at risk of fracturing a bone.

Most people receive Reclast treatment once a year. The most common symptoms, such as bone joint or muscle pain, are usually short-term.

Overall, it is an effective treatment that improves bone mass in individuals.