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Since calcitriol is the most potent metabolite of vitamin D available, prescription-based doses of vitamin D and its derivatives should be withheld or used with caution during treatment to avoid the risk of hypercalcemia.
A non-aluminum phosphate-binding compound should be used to control serum phosphorus levels in patients undergoing dialysis.
Overdosage of any form of vitamin D is dangerous (see also OVERDOSAGE). Progressive hypercalcemia due to overdosage of vitamin D and its metabolites may be so severe as to require emergency attention. Chronic hypercalcemia can lead to generalized vascular calcification, nephrocalcinosis, and other soft-tissue calcification. The serum calcium times phosphate (Ca x P) product should not be allowed to exceed 70 mg2/dL2. Radiographic evaluation of suspect anatomical regions may be useful in the early detection of this condition.
Excessive dosage of Calcijex (calcitriol injection) induces hypercalcemia and in some instances hypercalciuria; therefore, early in treatment during dosage adjustment, serum calcium and phosphorus should be determined at least twice weekly. Should hypercalcemia develop, the drug should be discontinued immediately.
Calcijex should be given cautiously to patients on digitalis, because hypercalcemia in such patients may precipitate cardiac arrhythmias.
Essential Laboratory Tests
Serum calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and alkaline phosphatase and 24-hour urinary calcium and phosphorus should be determined periodically. During the initial phase of the medication, serum calcium and phosphorus should be determined more frequently (twice weekly).
Adynamic bone disease may develop if PTH levels are suppressed to abnormal levels. If biopsy is not being done for other (diagnostic) reasons, PTH levels may be used to indicate the rate of bone turnover. If PTH levels fall below recommended target range (1.5 to 3 times the upper limit of normal), in patients treated with Calcijex, the Calcijex dose should be reduced or therapy discontinued. Discontinuation of Calcijex therapy may result in rebound effect, therefore, appropriate titration downward to a maintenance dose is recommended.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
Long-term studies in animals have not been conducted to evaluate the carcinogenic potential of Calcijex (calcitriol injection). Calcitriol was not mutagenic in vitro in the Ames Test nor was oral calcitriol genotoxic in vivo in the Mouse Micronucleus Test. No significant effects on fertility and/or general reproductive performances were observed in a Segment I study in rats using oral calcitriol at doses of up to 0.3 meg/kg.
Teratogenic Effects - Pregnancy Category C
Calcitriol has been found to be teratogenic in rabbits when given orally at doses of 0.08 and 0.3 meg/kg. All 15 fetuses in 3 litters at these doses showed external and skeletal abnormalities. However, none of the other 23 litters (156 fetuses) showed external and skeletal abnormalities compared with controls. Teratogenicity studies in rats at doses up to 0.45 meg/kg orally showed no evidence of teratogenic potential. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Calcijex should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
In the rabbit, oral dosages of 0.3 mcg/kg/day administered on days 7 to 18 of gestation resulted in 19% maternal mortality, a decrease in mean fetal body weight and a reduced number of newborns surviving to 24 hours. A study of the effects on orally administered calcitriol on peri-and postnatal development in rats resulted in hypercalcemia in the offspring of dams given calcitriol at doses of 0.08 or 0.3 mcg/kg/day, hypercalcemia and hypophosphatemia in dams given calcitriol at a dose of 0.08 or 0.3 mcg/kg/day and increased serum urea nitrogen in dams given calcitriol at a dose of 0.3 mcg/kg/day. In another study in rats, maternal weight gain was slightly reduced at an oral dose of 0.3 mcg/kg/day administered on days 7 to 15 of gestation.
The offspring of a woman administered oral calcitriol at 17 to 36 meg/day during pregnancy manifested mild hypercalcemia in the first 2 days of life which returned to normal at day 3.
It is not known whether this drug is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from calcitriol, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.
The safety and effectiveness of Calcijex were examined in a 12-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 35 pediatric patients, aged 13-18 years, with end-stage renal disease on hemodialysis. Sixty-six percent of the patients were male, 57% were African-American, and nearly all had received some form of vitamin D therapy prior to the study. The initial dose of Calcijex was 0.5 meg, 1.0 meg, or 1.5 meg, 3 times per week, based on baseline iPTH level of less than 500 pg/mL, 500-1000 pg/mL, or greater than 1000 pg/mL, respectively. The dose of Calcijex was adjusted in 0.25 meg increments based on the levels of serum iPTH, calcium, and Ca x P. The mean baseline levels of iPTH were 769 pg/mL for the 16 Calcijex-treated patients and 897 pg/mL for the 19 placebo-treated subjects. The mean weekly dose of Calcijex ranged from 1.0 meg to 1.4 meg. In the primary efficacy analysis, 7 of 16 (44%) subjects in the Calcijex group had 2 consecutive 30% decreases from baseline iPTH compared with 3 of 19 (16%) patients in the placebo group (95% CI for the difference between groups -6%, 62%). One Calcij ex-treated patient experienced transient hypercalcemia ( > 11.0 mg/dL), while 6 of 16 (38%) Calcij ex-treated patients vs. 2 of 19 (11%) placebo-treated patients experienced Ca x P > 75.
Clinical studies of Calcijex did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosage range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.
Last reviewed on RxList: 3/26/2012
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Additional Calcijex Injection Information
- Calcijex Injection Drug Interactions Center: calcitriol iv
- Calcijex Injection Side Effects Center
- Calcijex Injection Overview including Precautions
- Calcijex Injection FDA Approved Prescribing Information including Dosage
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