Calcitriol is a synthetic vitamin D analog which is active in the regulation of the absorption of calcium from the gastrointestinal tract and its utilization in the body. It is available as capsules containing 0.25 mcg or 0.5 mcg calcitriol. Each capsule also contains the following inactive ingredients: butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) as antioxidants, and triglycerides (medium chain). Gelatin capsule shell contains gelatin, glycerol, mannitol, red iron oxide, sorbitanhydrides, sorbitol, superior polyols, titanium dioxide and yellow iron oxide. Imprinting ink contains ammonium hydroxide, isopropyl alcohol, propylene glycol, shellac and titanium dioxide.
Calcitriol is a white, crystalline compound which occurs naturally in humans. It is soluble in organic solvents but relatively insoluble in water. Chemically, calcitriol is 9,10-seco(5Z,7E)-5,7,10(19)-cholestatriene-1α,3β,25-triol and has the following structural formula:
C27H44O3 M.W. 416.65
The other names frequently used for calcitriol are 1α,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol, 1,25- dihydroxyvitamin D3, 1,25-DHCC, 1,25(OH)2D3 and 1,25-diOHC.
Man’s natural supply of vitamin D depends mainly on exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun for conversion of 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin to vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D3 must be metabolically activated in the liver and the kidney before it is fully active as a regulator of calcium and phosphorus metabolism at target tissues. The initial transformation of vitamin D3 is catalyzed by a vitamin D3-25-hydroxylase enzyme (25-OHase) present in the liver, and the product of this reaction is 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [25-(OH)D3]. Hydroxylation of 25-(OH)D3 occurs in the mitochondria of kidney tissue, activated by the renal 25-hydroxyvitamin D3-1 alpha-hydroxylase (alpha-OHase), to produce 1,25-(OH)2D3 (calcitriol), the active form of vitamin D3. Endogenous synthesis and catabolism of calcitriol, as well as physiological control mechanisms affecting these processes, play a critical role regulating the serum level of calcitriol. Physiological daily production is normally 0.5 to 1.0 µg and is somewhat higher during periods of increased bone synthesis (e.g., growth or pregnancy).
The two known sites of action of calcitriol are intestine and bone. A calcitriol receptor-binding protein appears to exist in the mucosa of human intestine. Additional evidence suggests that calcitriol may also act on the kidney and the parathyroid glands. Calcitriol is the most active known form of vitamin D3 in stimulating intestinal calcium transport. In acutely uremic rats calcitriol has been shown to stimulate intestinal calcium absorption.
The kidneys of uremic patients cannot adequately synthesize calcitriol, the active hormone formed from precursor vitamin D. Resultant hypocalcemia and secondary hyperparathyroidism are a major cause of the metabolic bone disease of renal failure. However, other bone-toxic substances which accumulate in uremia (e.g., aluminum) may also contribute.
The beneficial effect of calcitriol in renal osteodystrophy appears to result from correction of hypocalcemia and secondary hyperparathyroidism. It is uncertain whether calcitriol produces other independent beneficial effects. Calcitriol treatment is not associated with an accelerated rate of renal function deterioration. No radiographic evidence of extraskeletal calcification has been found in predialysis patients following treatment. The duration of pharmacologic activity of a single dose of calcitriol is about 3 to 5 days.
Calcitriol is indicated in the management of secondary hyperparathyroidism and resultant metabolic bone disease in patients with moderate to severe chronic renal failure (Ccr 15 to 55 mL /min) not yet on dialysis. In children, the creatinine clearance value must be corrected for a surface area of 1.73 square meters. A serum iPTH level of ≥100 pg/mL is strongly suggestive of secondary hyperparathyroidism.
Calcitriol is indicated in the management of hypocalcemia and the resultant metabolic bone disease in patients undergoing chronic renal dialysis. In these patients, calcitriol administration enhances calcium absorption, reduces serum alkaline phosphatase levels, and may reduce elevated parathyroid hormone levels and the histological manifestations of osteitis fibrosa cystica and defective mineralization.
Calcitriol is also indicated in the management of hypocalcemia and its clinical manifestations in patients with postsurgical hypoparathyroidism, idiopathic hypoparathyroidism, and pseudohypoparathyroidism.
Calcitriol capsules should not be given to patients with hypercalcemia or evidence of vitamin D toxicity. Use of calcitriol capsules in patients with known hypersensitivity to calcitriol (or drugs of the same class) or any of the inactive ingredients is contraindicated.
Overdosage of any form of vitamin D is dangerous (see 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. Radiographic evaluation of suspect anatomical regions may be useful in the early detection of this condition.
Calcitriol is the most potent metabolite of vitamin D available. The administration of calcitriol to patients in excess of their daily requirements can cause hypercalcemia, hypercalciuria, and hyperphosphatemia. Therefore, pharmacologic doses of vitamin D and its derivatives should be withheld during calcitriol treatment to avoid possible additive effects and hypercalcemia. If treatment is switched from ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) to calcitriol, it may take several months for the ergocalciferol level in the blood to return to the baseline value (see OVERDOSAGE). Calcitriol increases inorganic phosphate levels in serum. While this is desirable in patients with hypophosphatemia, caution is called for in patients with renal failure because of the danger of ectopic calcification. A non-aluminum phosphate-binding compound and a low-phosphate diet should be used to control serum phosphorus levels in patients undergoing dialysis.
Magnesium-containing preparations (e.g., antacids) and calcitriol should not be used concomitantly in patients on chronic renal dialysis because such use may lead to the development of hypermagnesemia.
Studies in dogs and rats given calcitriol for up to 26 weeks have shown that small increases of calcitriol above endogenous levels can lead to abnormalities of calcium metabolism with the potential for calcification of many tissues in the body.
Excessive dosage of calcitriol induces hypercalcemia and in some instances hypercalciuria; therefore, early in treatment during dosage adjustment, serum calcium should be determined twice weekly. In dialysis patients, a fall in serum alkaline phosphatase levels usually antedates the appearance of hypercalcemia and may be an indication of impending hypercalcemia. An abrupt increase in calcium intake as a result of changes in diet (e.g., increased consumption of dairy products) or uncontrolled intake of calcium preparations may trigger hypercalcemia.
Should hypercalcemia develop, treatment with calcitriol should be stopped immediately. During periods of hypercalcemia, serum calcium and phosphate levels must be determined daily. When normal levels have been attained, treatment with calcitriol can be continued, at a daily dose 0.25 µg lower than that previously used. An estimate of daily dietary calcium intake should be made and the intake adjusted when indicated. Calcitriol should be given cautiously to patients on digitalis, because hypercalcemia in such patients may precipitate cardiac arrhythmias.
Immobilized patients, e.g., those who have undergone surgery, are particularly exposed to the risk of hypercalcemia.
In patients with normal renal function, chronic hypercalcemia may be associated with an increase in serum creatinine. While this is usually reversible, it is important in such patients to pay careful attention to those factors which may lead to hypercalcemia. Calcitriol therapy should always be started at the lowest possible dose and should not be increased without careful monitoring of the serum calcium. An estimate of daily dietary calcium intake should be made and the intake adjusted when indicated.
Patients with normal renal function taking calcitriol should avoid dehydration. Adequate fluid intake should be maintained.
The patient and his or her caregivers should be informed about compliance with dosage instructions, adherence to instructions about diet and calcium supplementation, and avoidance of the use of unapproved nonprescription drugs. Patients and their caregivers should also be carefully informed about the symptoms of hypercalcemia (see ADVERSE REACTIONS).
The effectiveness of calcitriol therapy is predicated on the assumption that each patient is receiving an adequate daily intake of calcium. Patients are advised to have a dietary intake of calcium at a minimum of 600 mg daily. The U.S. RDA for calcium in adults is 800 mg to 1200 mg.
For dialysis patients, serum calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and alkaline phosphatase should be determined periodically. For hypoparathyroid patients, serum calcium, phosphorus, and 24-hour urinary calcium should be determined periodically. For predialysis patients, serum calcium, phosphorus, alkaline phosphatase, creatinine, and intact PTH (iPTH) should be determined initially. Thereafter, serum calcium, phosphorus, alkaline phosphatase, and creatinine should be determined monthly for a 6-month period and then determined periodically. Intact PTH (iPTH) should be determined periodically every 3 to 4 months at the time of visits. During the titration period of treatment with calcitriol, serum calcium levels should be checked at least twice weekly (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
Long-term studies in animals have not been conducted to evaluate the carcinogenic potential of calcitriol. Calcitriol is not mutagenic in vitro in the Ames Test, nor is it genotoxic in vivo in the Mouse Micronucleus Test. No significant effects of calcitriol on fertility and/or general reproductive performances were observed in a Segment I study in rats at doses of up to 0.3 mcg/kg (approximately 3 times the maximum recommended dose based on body surface area).
Calcitriol from ingested calcitriol capsules may be excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions from calcitriol in nursing infants, a mother should not nurse while taking calcitriol.
Safety and effectiveness of calcitriol in pediatric patients undergoing dialysis have not been established. The safety and effectiveness of calcitriol in pediatric predialysis patients is based on evidence from adequate and well-controlled studies of calcitriol in adults with predialysis chronic renal failure and additional supportive data from non-placebo controlled studies in pediatric patients. Dosing guidelines have not been established for pediatric patients under 1 year of age with hypoparathyroidism or for pediatric patients less than 6 years of age with pseudohypoparathyroidism (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, Hypoparathyroidism).
Oral doses of calcitriol ranging from 10 to 55 ng/kg/day have been shown to improve calcium homeostasis and bone disease in pediatric patients with chronic renal failure for whom hemodialysis is not yet required (predialysis). Long-term calcitriol therapy is well tolerated by pediatric patients. The most common safety issues are mild, transient episodes of hypercalcemia, hyperphosphatemia, and increases in the serum calcium times phosphate (Ca x P) product which are managed effectively by dosage adjustment or temporary discontinuation of the vitamin D derivative.
Clinical studies of calcitriol 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 dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.
Since calcitriol is believed to be the active hormone which exerts vitamin D activity in the body, adverse effects are, in general, similar to those encountered with excessive vitamin D intake, i.e., hypercalcemia syndrome or calcium intoxication (depending on the severity and duration of hypercalcemia) (see WARNINGS). Because of the short biological half-life of calcitriol, pharmacokinetic investigations have shown normalization of elevated serum calcium within a few days of treatment withdrawal, i.e., much faster than in treatment with vitamin D3 preparations.
The early and late signs and symptoms of vitamin D intoxication associated with hypercalcemia include:
Early: weakness, headache, somnolence, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, constipation, muscle pain, bone pain, metallic taste, and anorexia.
Late: polyuria, polydipsia, anorexia, weight loss, nocturia, conjunctivitis (calcific), pancreatitis, photophobia, rhinorrhea, pruritus, hyperthermia, decreased libido, elevated BUN, albuminuria, hypercholesterolemia, elevated SGOT (AST) and SGPT (ALT), ectopic calcification, nephrocalcinosis, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, dystrophy, sensory disturbances, dehydration, apathy, arrested growth, urinary tract infections, and, rarely, overt psychosis.
In clinical studies on hypoparathyroidism and pseudohypoparathyroidism, hypercalcemia was noted on at least one occasion in about 1 in 3 patients and hypercalciuria in about 1 in 7 patients. Elevated serum creatinine levels were observed in about 1 in 6 patients (approximately one half of whom had normal levels at baseline).
In concurrent hypercalcemia and hyperphosphatemia, soft-tissue calcification may occur; this can be seen radiographically (see WARNINGS).
In patients with normal renal function, chronic hypercalcemia may be associated with an increase in serum creatinine (see PRECAUTIONS, General).
Hypersensitivity reactions may occur. One case of erythema multiforme and one case of allergic reaction (swelling of lips and hives all over the body) were confirmed by rechallenge.
Administration of calcitriol to patients in excess of their daily requirements can cause hypercalcemia, hypercalciuria, and hyperphosphatemia. Since calcitriol is a derivative of vitamin D, the signs and symptoms of overdose are the same as for an overdose of vitamin D (see ADVERSE REACTIONS). High intake of calcium and phosphate concomitant with calcitriol may lead to similar abnormalities. High levels of calcium in the dialysate bath may contribute to the hypercalcemia (see WARNINGS).
General treatment of hypercalcemia (greater than 1 mg/dL above the upper limit of the normal range) consists of immediate discontinuation of calcitriol therapy, institution of a low-calcium diet and withdrawal of calcium supplements. Serum calcium levels should be determined daily until normocalcemia ensues. Hypercalcemia frequently resolves in 2 to 7 days. When serum calcium levels have returned to within normal limits, calcitriol therapy may be reinstituted at a dose of 0.25 mcg/day less than prior therapy. Serum calcium levels should be obtained at least twice weekly after all dosage changes and subsequent dosage titration. In dialysis patients, persistent or markedly elevated serum calcium levels may be corrected by dialysis against a calcium-free dialysate.
If hypercalcemia ensues (greater than 1 mg/dL above the upper limit of the normal range), adjust dosage to achieve normocalcemia by reducing calcitriol therapy from 0.5 mcg to 0.25 mcg daily. If the patient is receiving a therapy of 0.25 mcg daily, discontinue calcitriol until patient becomes normocalcemic. Calcium supplements should also be reduced or discontinued. Serum calcium levels should be determined 1 week after withdrawal of calcium supplements. If serum calcium levels have returned to normal, calcitriol therapy may be reinstituted at a dosage of 0.25 mcg/day if previous therapy was at a dosage of 0.5 mcg/day. If calcitriol therapy was previously administered at a dosage of 0.25 mcg/day, calcitriol therapy may be reinstituted at a dosage of 0.25 mcg every other day. If hypercalcemia is persistent at the reduced dosage, serum PTH should be measured. If serum PTH is normal, discontinue calcitriol therapy and monitor patient in 3 months’ time.
If serum phosphorus levels exceed 5.0 mg/dL to 5.5 mg/dL, a calcium-containing phosphate binding agent (i.e., calcium carbonate or calcium acetate) should be taken with meals. Serum phosphorus levels should be determined as described earlier (see PRECAUTIONS, Laboratory Tests). Aluminum-containing gels should be used with caution as phosphate binding agents because of the risk of slow aluminum accumulation.
The treatment of acute accidental overdosage of calcitriol should consist of general supportive measures. If drug ingestion is discovered within a relatively short time, induction of emesis or gastric lavage may be of benefit in preventing further absorption. If the drug has passed through the stomach, the administration of mineral oil may promote its fecal elimination. Serial serum electrolyte determinations (especially calcium), rate of urinary calcium excretion and assessment of electrocardiographic abnormalities due to hypercalcemia should be obtained. Such monitoring is critical in patients receiving digitalis. Discontinuation of supplemental calcium and a low-calcium diet are also indicated in accidental overdosage. Due to the relatively short duration of the pharmacological action of calcitriol, further measures are probably unnecessary. Should, however, persistent and markedly elevated serum calcium levels occur, there are a variety of therapeutic alternatives which may be considered, depending on the patient’s underlying condition. These include the use of drugs such as phosphates and corticosteroids as well as measures to induce an appropriate forced diuresis. The use of peritoneal dialysis against a calcium-free dialysate has also been reported.
The optimal daily dose of calcitriol capsules must be carefully determined for each patient. Calcitriol can be administered orally as a capsule (0.25 mcg or 0.50 mcg). Calcitriol therapy should always be started at the lowest possible dose and should not be increased without careful monitoring of serum calcium.
The effectiveness of calcitriol capsules therapy is predicated on the assumption that each patient is receiving an adequate but not excessive daily intake of calcium. Patients are advised to have a dietary intake of calcium at a minimum of 600 mg daily. The U.S. RDA for calcium in adults is 800 mg to 1200 mg. To ensure that each patient receives an adequate daily intake of calcium, the physician should either prescribe a calcium supplement or instruct the patient in proper dietary measures.
Because of improved calcium absorption from the gastrointestinal tract, some patients on calcitriol may be maintained on a lower calcium intake. Patients who tend to develop hypercalcemia may require only low doses of calcium or no supplementation at all.
During the titration period of treatment with calcitriol, serum calcium levels should be checked at least twice weekly. When the optimal dosage of calcitriol has been determined, serum calcium levels should be checked every month (or as given below for individual indications). Samples for serum calcium estimation should be taken without a tourniquet.
The recommended initial dose of calcitriol capsules is 0.25 mcg/day. If a satisfactory response in the biochemical parameters and clinical manifestations of the disease state is not observed, dosage may be increased by 0.25 mcg/day at 4- to 8-week intervals. During this titration period, serum calcium levels should be obtained at least twice weekly, and if hypercalcemia is noted, the drug should be immediately discontinued until normocalcemia ensues (see PRECAUTIONS, General). Phosphorus, magnesium, and alkaline phosphatase should be determined periodically.
Patients with normal or only slightly reduced serum calcium levels may respond to calcitriol capsules doses of 0.25 mcg every other day. Most patients undergoing hemodialysis respond to doses between 0.5 and 1 mcg/day.
Oral calcitriol capsules may normalize plasma ionized calcium in some uremic patients, yet fail to suppress parathyroid hyperfunction. In these individuals with autonomous parathyroid hyperfunction, oral calcitriol capsules may be useful to maintain normocalcemia, but have not been shown to be adequate treatment for hyperparathyroidism.
The recommended initial dosage of calcitriol capsules is 0.25 mcg/day given in the morning. If a satisfactory response in the biochemical parameters and clinical manifestations of the disease is not observed, the dose may be increased at 2- to 4-week intervals. During the dosage titration period, serum calcium levels should be obtained at least twice weekly and, if hypercalcemia is noted, calcitriol capsules should be immediately discontinued until normocalcemia ensues. (see PRECAUTIONS, General). Careful consideration should also be given to lowering the dietary calcium intake. Serum calcium, phosphorus, and 24-hour urinary calcium should be determined periodically.
Most adult patients and pediatric patients age 6 years and older have responded to dosages in the range of 0.5 to 2 mcg daily. Pediatric patients in the 1 to 5 year age group with hypoparathyroidism have usually been given 0.25 to 0.75 mcg daily. The number of treated patients with pseudohypoparathyroidism less than 6 years of age is too small to make dosage recommendations. Malabsorption is occasionally noted in patients with hypoparathyroidism; hence, larger doses of calcitriol may be needed.
The recommended initial dosage of calcitriol is 0.25 mcg /day in adults and pediatric patients 3 years of age and older. This dosage may be increased if necessary to 0.5 mcg/day. For pediatric patients less than 3 years of age, the recommended initial dosage of calcitriol is 10 to 15 ng/kg/day.
Calcitriol Capsules are available as follows:
0.25 mcg - opaque, red-brown and yellow-brown, two tone, oval soft gelatin capsules, imprinted “93” on one side and “657” on the other side, in bottles of 100.
0.5 mcg - opaque, brown and pink, two tone, oblong soft gelatin capsules, imprinted “93” on one side and “658” on the other side, in bottles of 100.
Store at 20° to 25°C (68° to 77°F) [See USP Controlled Room Temperature]. Protect from light.
Dispense in a tight, light-resistant container as defined in the USP, with a child-resistant closure (as required).
Manufactured In Israel/Germany By:
TEVA PHARMACEUTICAL IND. LTD./RP SCHERER
TEVA PHARMACEUTICALS USA
Sellersville, PA 18960
Rev. E 4/2006