Paricalcitol (Page 4 of 6)


Excessive administration of paricalcitol capsules can cause hypercalcemia, hypercalciuria, and hyperphosphatemia, and over suppression of PTH [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].

Treatment of Overdosage

The treatment of acute overdosage of paricalcitol capsules 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 institution of a low-calcium diet are also indicated in accidental overdosage. Due to the relatively short duration of the pharmacological action of paricalcitol, further measures are probably unnecessary. If persistent and markedly elevated serum calcium levels occur, there are a variety of therapeutic alternatives that 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.

Paricalcitol is not significantly removed by dialysis.


Paricalcitol, USP, the active ingredient in paricalcitol capsules, is a synthetically manufactured, metabolically active vitamin D analog of calcitriol with modifications to the side chain (D2 ) and the A (19-nor) ring. Paricalcitol, USP is available as soft gelatin capsules for oral administration containing 1 microgram, 2 micrograms or 4 micrograms of paricalcitol, USP. Each capsule also contains butylated hydroxytoluene, ethanol, and medium chain triglycerides. The medium chain triglycerides are fractionated from coconut oil or palm kernel oil. The capsule shell is composed of gelatin, glycerin, purified water, and titanium dioxide. The 1 microgram capsule shell also contains black iron oxide and yellow iron oxide. The 2 microgram capsule shell also contains black iron oxide, red iron oxide and yellow iron oxide. The 4 microgram capsule shell also contains yellow iron oxide.

Paricalcitol, USP is a white, crystalline powder with the empirical formula of C27 H44 O3 , which corresponds to a molecular weight of 416.64. Paricalcitol, USP is chemically designated as 19-nor-1α,3β,25-trihydroxy-9,10-secoergosta-5(Z),7(E),22(E)-triene and has the following structural formula:

(click image for full-size original)


Secondary hyperparathyroidism is characterized by an elevation in parathyroid hormone (PTH) associated with inadequate levels of active vitamin D hormone. The source of vitamin D in the body is from synthesis in the skin as vitamin D3 and from dietary intake as either vitamin D2 or D3 . Both vitamin D2 and D3 require two sequential hydroxylations in the liver and the kidney to bind to and to activate the vitamin D receptor (VDR). The endogenous VDR activator, calcitriol [1,25(OH)2 D3 ], is a hormone that binds to VDRs that are present in the parathyroid gland, intestine, kidney, and bone to maintain parathyroid function and calcium and phosphorus homeostasis, and to VDRs found in many other tissues, including prostate, endothelium and immune cells. VDR activation is essential for the proper formation and maintenance of normal bone. In the diseased kidney, the activation of vitamin D is diminished, resulting in a rise of PTH, subsequently leading to secondary hyperparathyroidism and disturbances in the calcium and phosphorus homeostasis. Decreased levels of 1,25(OH)2 D3 have been observed in early stages of chronic kidney disease. The decreased levels of 1,25(OH)2 D3 and resultant elevated PTH levels, both of which often precede abnormalities in serum calcium and phosphorus, affect bone turnover rate and may result in renal osteodystrophy.

12.1 Mechanism of Action

Paricalcitol is a synthetic, biologically active vitamin D2 analog of calcitriol. Preclinical and in vitro studies have demonstrated that paricalcitol’s biological actions are mediated through binding of the VDR, which results in the selective activation of vitamin D responsive pathways. Vitamin D and paricalcitol have been shown to reduce parathyroid hormone levels by inhibiting PTH synthesis and secretion.

12.2 Pharmacodynamics

Paricalcitol decreases serum intact parathyroid hormone (iPTH) and increases serum calcium and serum phosphorous in both HD and PD patients. This observed relationship was quantified using a mathematical model for HD and PD patient populations separately. Computer-based simulations of 100 trials in HD or PD patients (N = 100) using these relationships predict slightly lower efficacy (at least two consecutive ≥ 30% reductions from baseline iPTH) with lower hypercalcemia rates (at least two consecutive serum calcium ≥ 10.5 mg/dL) for lower iPTH-based dosing regimens. Further lowering of hypercalcemia rates was predicted if the treatment with paricalcitol is initiated in patients with lower serum calcium levels at screening.

Based on these simulations, a dosing regimen of iPTH/80 with a screening serum calcium ≤ 9.5 mg/dL, approximately 76.5% (95% CI: 75.6% to 77.3%) of HD patients are predicted to achieve at least two consecutive weekly ≥ 30% reductions from baseline iPTH over a duration of 12 weeks. The predicted incidence of hypercalcemia is 0.8% (95% CI: 0.7% to 1.0%). In PD patients, with this dosing regimen, approximately 83.3% (95% CI: 82.6% to 84.0%) of patients are predicted to achieve at least two consecutive weekly ≥ 30% reductions from baseline iPTH. The predicted incidence of hypercalcemia is 12.4% (95% CI: 11.7% to 13.0%) [see Clinical Studies (14.2) and Dosage and Administration (2.2)].

12.3 Pharmacokinetics


The mean absolute bioavailability of paricalcitol capsules under low-fat fed condition ranged from 72% to 86% in healthy adult volunteers, CKD Stage 5 patients on HD, and CKD Stage 5 patients on PD. A food effect study in healthy adult volunteers indicated that the Cmax and AUC0-∞ were unchanged when paricalcitol was administered with a high fat meal compared to fasting.

Food delayed Tmax by about 2 hours. The AUC0-∞ of paricalcitol increased proportionally over the dose range of 0.06 to 0.48 mcg/kg in healthy adult volunteers.


Paricalcitol is extensively bound to plasma proteins (≥ 99.8%). The mean apparent volume of distribution following a 0.24 mcg/kg dose of paricalcitol in healthy adult volunteers was 34 L. The mean apparent volume of distribution following a 4 mcg dose of paricalcitol in CKD Stage 3 and a 3 mcg dose in CKD Stage 4 patients is between 44 and 46 L.


After oral administration of a 0.48 mcg/kg dose of 3 H-paricalcitol, parent drug was extensively metabolized, with only about 2% of the dose eliminated unchanged in the feces, and no parent drug was found in the urine. Several metabolites were detected in both the urine and feces. Most of the systemic exposure was from the parent drug. Two minor metabolites, relative to paricalcitol, were detected in human plasma. One metabolite was identified as 24(R)-hydroxy paricalcitol, while the other metabolite was unidentified. The 24(R)-hydroxy paricalcitol is less active than paricalcitol in an in vivo rat model of PTH suppression.

In vitro data suggest that paricalcitol is metabolized by multiple hepatic and non-hepatic enzymes, including mitochondrial CYP24, as well as CYP3A4 and UGT1A4. The identified metabolites include the product of 24(R)-hydroxylation, 24,26- and 24,28-dihydroxylation and direct glucuronidation.


Paricalcitol is eliminated primarily via hepatobiliary excretion; approximately 70% of the radiolabeled dose is recovered in the feces and 18% is recovered in the urine. While the mean elimination half-life of paricalcitol is 4 to 6 hours in healthy adult volunteers, the mean elimination half-life of paricalcitol in CKD Stages 3, 4, and 5 (on HD and PD) patients ranged from 14 to 20 hours.

Table 7. Paricalcitol Capsule Pharmacokinetic Parameters (mean ± SD) in CKD Stages 3, 4, and 5 Adult Patients

Pharmacokinetic Parameters


CKD Stage 3 n = 15*

CKD Stage 4 n = 14*

CKD Stage 5 HD** n = 14

CKD Stage 5 PD** n = 8

Cmax (ng/mL)

0.11 ± 0.04

0.06 ± 0.01

0.575 ± 0.17

0.413 ± 0.06

AUC0-∞ (ng•h/mL)

2.42 ± 0.61

2.13 ± 0.73

11.67 ± 3.23

13.41 ± 5.48

CL/F (L/h)

1.77 ± 0.50

1.52 ± 0.36

1.82 ± 0.75

1.76 ± 0.77

V/F (L)

43.7 ± 14.4

46.4 ± 12.4

38 ± 16.4

48.7 ± 15.6


16.8 ± 2.65

19.7 ± 7.2

13.9 ± 5.1

17.7 ± 9.6

HD: hemodialysis; PD: peritoneal dialysis.
* Four mcg paricalcitol capsules were given to CKD Stage 3 patients; three mcg paricalcitol capsules were given to CKD Stage 4 patients. ** CKD Stage 5 HD and PD patients received a 0.24 mcg/kg dose of paricalcitol as capsules.

Specific Populations


The pharmacokinetics of paricalcitol has not been investigated in geriatric patients greater than 65 years [see Use in Specific Populations (8.5)].


Pediatric use information for patients 10 to 16 years of age is approved for AbbVie Inc.’s Zemplar (paricalcitol) capsules. However, due to AbbVie Inc.’s marketing exclusivity rights, this drug product is not labeled with that pediatric information.


The pharmacokinetics of paricalcitol following single doses over the 0.06 to 0.48 mcg/kg dose range was gender independent.

Hepatic Impairment

The disposition of paricalcitol (0.24 mcg/kg) was compared in patients with mild (n = 5) and moderate (n = 5) hepatic impairment (as indicated by the Child-Pugh method) and subjects with normal hepatic function (n = 10). The pharmacokinetics of unbound paricalcitol was similar across the range of hepatic function evaluated in this study. No dose adjustment is required in patients with mild and moderate hepatic impairment. The influence of severe hepatic impairment on the pharmacokinetics of paricalcitol has not been evaluated.

Renal Impairment

Following administration of paricalcitol capsules, the pharmacokinetic profile of paricalcitol for CKD Stage 5 on HD or PD was comparable to that in CKD 3 or 4 patients. Therefore, no special dose adjustments are required other than those recommended in the Dosage and Administration section [see Dosage and Administration (2)].

Drug Interactions

An in vitro study indicates that paricalcitol is neither an inhibitor of CYP1A2, CYP2A6, CYP2B6, CYP2C8, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, CYP2D6, CYP2E1 or CYP3A nor an inducer of CYP2B6, CYP2C9 or CYP3A. Hence, paricalcitol is neither expected to inhibit nor induce the clearance of drugs metabolized by these enzymes.


The effect of omeprazole (40 mg capsule), a strong inhibitor of CYP2C19, on paricalcitol (four 4 mcg capsules) pharmacokinetics was investigated in a single dose, crossover study in healthy subjects. The pharmacokinetics of paricalcitol was not affected when omeprazole was administered approximately 2 hours prior to the paricalcitol dose.


The effect of multiple doses of ketoconazole, a strong inhibitor of CYP3A, administered as 200 mg BID for 5 days on the pharmacokinetics of paricalcitol (4 mcg capsule) has been studied in healthy subjects. The Cmax of paricalcitol was minimally affected, but AUC0-∞ approximately doubled in the presence of ketoconazole. The mean half-life of paricalcitol was 17.0 hours in the presence of ketoconazole as compared to 9.8 hours, when paricalcitol was administered alone [see Drug Interactions (7)].

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