Paricalcitol is a medication a doctor may recommend for a patient with chronic kidney disease or renal failure to prevent secondary hyperparathyroidism, a potential complication of kidney disorders. Pharmacists most commonly provide it in the form of oral gel tablets, as these are easy for patients to manage. Before a doctor will prescribe paricalcitol, it is necessary to perform a thorough patient evaluation to check for any contraindications that could make the medication dangerous.
This drug is a synthetic version of vitamin D. When it enters the body, it blocks production of parathyroid hormone, keeping this hormone at a safe level. The medication can prevent secondary symptoms of kidney failure and will keep the patient healthier and more stable. The dosage depends on the patient's case and how well she responds to the medication.
Several medications, like seizure drugs and certain anti-fungals, can interact negatively with paricalcitol. Patients preparing to take this medication should discuss all drugs they are taking, including herbal supplements and drugs they buy over the counter, as the doctor will want to determine if any of them pose a safety risk for the patient. The drug can also be dangerous for people with certain preexisting medical conditions, and these patients may need to manage their parathyroid hormone levels by another means.
A doctor may recommend some blood tests before a patient starts paricalcitol therapy. This will allow the doctor to determine baseline hormone levels while checking on kidney function. As the patient uses the drug, follow-up tests can check on the patient's response, to see if dosage adjustments are necessary. Usually parathyroid hormone levels go down after starting therapy. If they do not, the patient may have other underlying problems, and additional diagnostic testing will need to take place to find out more.
Paricalcitol therapy can cause nausea, chills, headache, and fever. Patients who experience these symptoms should report them, as they may be signs of adverse reactions to the drug. Some patients are allergic to the medication and will develop difficulty breathing, rashes, and disorientation. These symptoms are a sign that the patient should stop taking the medication immediately and consult a doctor to determine if additional treatment is necessary. Patients on paricalcitol and other drugs should carry an information card listing their medications and dosages, as this information may be useful in an emergency when there may be concerns about what kinds of treatments doctors can safely provide.