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Paricalcitol capsules (Zemplar® )

Patient information A-Z

What are paricalcitol capsules and what do they do?

Paricalcitol is one of a group of medicines called vitamin D analogues which control the levels of calcium and phosphate in your body. They are used in conditions where there is a disturbance in the body’s calcium levels, for example in kidney disorders where they are used to manage changes in the bones caused by kidney failure.

Paricalcitol is a form of vitamin D. It is given to increase your blood calcium level and keep it normal. It helps when your kidney can no longer produce vitamin D itself.

In addition to paricalcitol many patients will also be prescribed phosphate binder (for example Calcichew® , Renagel® ) to ensure that your phosphate and calcium levels are well controlled.

Why am I prescribed paricalcitol capsules?

When your kidneys can no longer control vitamin D themselves, the parathyroid hormone (PTH) and calcium levels in your body are affected. Paricalcitol helps to keep these levels normal and prevent long term complications such as renal bone disease.

It is likely that you have been prescribed alfacalcidol, a similar drug to paricalcitol before, but your doctor has decided to prescribe you paricalcitol instead as this may help to control your calcium and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels more effectively.

How do I take my paricalcitol capsules?

Paricalcitol is taken three times weekly. Check with your doctor, pharmacist or specialist nurse to make sure you know how often you should take your capsules – the label on the box should tell you as well.

Do I need to have any tests or be monitored because I am taking paricalcitol capsules?

Your doctor will monitor your calcium and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels regularly and may adjust your dose of paricalcitol depending on your levels.

Are there any side effects?

This medicine is based on the natural active form of a vitamin and it causes no unexpected side effects. It is important however to ensure that treatment does not result in calcium levels in blood which are too high (hypercalcaemia) - your doctors will check your calcium level regularly to make sure that this does not happen.

If you are concerned that you are experiencing or have experienced a side effect that you think may have been caused by the paricalcitol capsules please contact your doctor or specialist nurse for advice.

Are there any problems taking paricalcitol capsules with any other medications?

Some medicines used in the treatment of epilepsy (phenobarbitone, phenytoin, carbamazepine) reduce the levels of vitamin D in the body. If you are taking any of these medications your doctor will adjust your alfacalcidol dose accordingly.

Avoid vitamin supplements which contain vitamin D, including multivitamin tablets and fish oil preparations (including cod liver oil).

Only take tablets prescribed for you by your doctor and check with your pharmacist before taking any new medicines.

Further information

Further information about your tablet can be found in the patient information leaflet found in the tablet/capsule box or on the container.

If you have any other questions about your medication, please contact the medicine helpline on 01223 217502.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

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Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151