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Generic Name:

calcitriol, Oral capsule

All Brands

  • Rocaltrol
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for calcitriol

Oral capsule
1

Calcitriol is a synthetic (manmade) form of vitamin D. It comes as a capsule and a solution, both taken by mouth. It also comes as an ointment that’s topical (applied to the skin). In addition, there’s an intravenous form available.

2

Calcitriol oral capsules are used to treat high levels of parathyroid hormone. They’re also used to treat low calcium levels and bone disease. They’re used in people with kidney problems. 

3

Calcitriol capsules are available as a brand-name drug called Rocaltrol. They’re also available as a generic drug.

4

The more common side effects of the capsule can include weakness, headache, stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, or constipation. They can also include dry mouth, a metallic taste in the mouth, or loss of appetite.

5

While taking this drug, you should take in calcium every day through food or supplements. Your doctor can tell you the amount that’s best for you.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Hypercalcemia

Taking too much of this drug can cause you to have too much calcium in your body. Symptoms of this serious condition include constipation, tiredness, and depression. If you have these symptoms, call your doctor right away. To help avoid this condition, be sure to take calcitriol only as directed by your doctor. And follow your doctor’s instructions for how much calcium you should have in your diet each day.

Vitamin D intoxication

Taking too much of this drug can cause you to have too much vitamin D in your body. Symptoms of this serious condition can include nausea or vomiting, weakness, or poor appetite. If you have these symptoms, call your doctor right away. To help prevent this condition, be sure to take calcitriol only as directed by your doctor. Also, follow your doctor’s instructions about diet and vitamin D or calcium supplements.

What is calcitriol?

Calcitriol is a prescription drug. It comes in the form of a capsule and a solution, both taken by mouth. It also comes as an ointment that’s topical (applied to the skin). In addition, there’s an intravenous form available.

Calcitriol capsules are available as a brand-name drug called Rocaltrol. They’re also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. 

Why it's used

Calcitriol is a synthetic (manmade) form of vitamin D. Calcitriol oral capsules are used to treat levels of parathyroid hormone that are too high in people with kidney problems. Parathyroid hormone helps the body keep its calcium levels in a healthy range.

Calcitriol capsules are also used to treat low calcium levels and bone disease. They work by helping to keep your body’s levels of the minerals calcium and phosphorus within a normal range.

How it works

Calcitriol belongs to a class of drugs called vitamin D analogs. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Calcitriol helps control the levels of a chemical in your body called parathyroid hormone. It does this by bringing your calcium levels into a normal range. This helps maintain a balance of minerals in your body, which helps keep bones healthy.

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SECTION 2 of 5

calcitriol Side Effects

Oral capsule

More Common Side Effects

The more common side effects of calcitriol capsules can include:

  • weakness

  • headache

  • stomach upset

  • nausea

  • constipation

  • dry mouth

  • metallic taste in the mouth

  • loss of appetite

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Vitamin D or calcium intoxication. Symptoms can include:

    • extreme weakness
    • drowsiness
    • muscle or bone pain
    • increased urination
    • increased thirst
    • weight loss
    • irregular heart rhythms
  • Allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

    • rash
    • hives
    • severe itching
    • blistering, raised sores on your skin that look like red rings
    • peeling skin
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Calcitriol doesn’t cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

calcitriol May Interact with Other Medications

Oral capsule

Calcitriol can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Drugs you should not use with calcitriol

Do not take these drugs with calcitriol. Doing so can cause dangerous effects in the body. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Other forms of vitamin D. These drugs may lead to higher levels of calcium in your body.
  • Medications that contain magnesium, such as antacids. These drugs may cause high levels of magnesium in your body.

Interactions that increase your risk of side effects
  • Increased side effects from calcitriol: Taking calcitriol with certain medications raises your risk of side effects from calcitriol. This is because the amount of calcitriol in your body may be increased. Examples of these drugs include:
    • Diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide. Increased side effects can include higher levels of calcium in your body. Symptoms can include dehydration (low fluid levels), increased thirst, weight loss, or itching.
    • Digitalis. Increased side effects can include higher levels of calcium in your body. Symptoms can include abnormal heart rhythms. They can also include dehydration (low fluid levels), increased thirst, weight loss, or itching.
    • Calcium supplements. Increased side effects can include higher levels of calcium in your body. Symptoms can include dehydration (low fluid levels), increased thirst, weight loss, or itching. Don’t take any calcium supplements without talking to your doctor first.

Interactions that can make calcitriol less effective

When calcitriol is used with certain drugs, it may not work as well to treat your condition. This is because the amount of calcitriol in your body may be decreased. Examples of these drugs include:

Cholestyramine. Your doctor may adjust your dosage of calcitriol as needed.

  • Phenytoin or phenobarbital. Your doctor may increase your dosage of calcitriol.
  • Antifungal drugs such as ketoconazole, itraconazole, posaconazole, or voriconazole. Your doctor may adjust your dosage of calcitriol as needed.
  • Corticosteroids. Your doctor may adjust your dosage of calcitriol as needed.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Calcitriol warnings
high calcium levels
People with high calcium levels

Do not take calcitriol. This drug can raise your calcium levels to a dangerous range.

pregnant women
Pregnant women

Calcitriol is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should be used only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

Calcitriol may pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breast-fed. It’s recommended to avoid breast-feeding while taking calcitriol.

Talk to your doctor if you breast-feed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this medication.

for seniors
For seniors

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

for children
For children
  • Calcitriol hasn’t been studied in children on dialysis. It shouldn’t be used in people on dialysis who are younger than 18 years.
  • It hasn’t been confirmed that calcitriol is safe and effective for use in people younger than 1 year with low levels of parathyroid hormone.
  • It hasn’t been confirmed that calcitriol is safe and effective for use in people younger than 6 years with a condition called pseudohypoparathyroidism.
call doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug.

allergies
Allergies

Calcitriol can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • rash
  • hives
  • severe itching
  • blistering, raised sores on the skin that look like red rings
  • peeling skin

Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room if you develop these symptoms.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

SECTION 4 of 5

How to Take calcitriol (Dosage)

Oral capsule

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Hyperparathyroidism and bone disease due to hypocalcemia in people with severe kidney problems before dialysis

Brand: Rocatrol

Form: Oral capsule
Strengths: 0.25 mcg, 0.5 mcg

Generic: Calcitriol

Form: Oral capsule
Strengths: 0.25 mcg, 0.5 mcg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 0.25 mcg once per day.
  • Dosage increases: Every 4–8 weeks, your doctor will slowly increase your dosage. Your doctor will change your dosage based on the results of your lab tests. These check things such as your calcium levels.   
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

Calcitriol capsules haven’t been studied in children on dialysis. They shouldn’t be used in people on dialysis who are younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different medication schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Hyperparathyroidism and bone disease due to hypocalcemia in people with severe kidney problems on dialysis

Brand: Rocatrol

Form: Oral capsule
Strengths: 0.25 mcg, 0.5 mcg

Generic: Calcitriol

Form: Oral capsule
Strengths: 0.25 mcg, 0.5 mcg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 0.25 mcg once per day.
  • Dosage increases: Every 4–8 weeks, your doctor will slowly increase your dosage. Your doctor will change your dosage based on the results of your lab tests. These check things such as your calcium levels.   
Child dosage (ages 3–17 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 0.25 mcg once per day.
Child dosage (ages 0–2 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: Your child’s doctor will determine your child’s dosage based on weight. Typical dosage is 0.01–0.015 mcg/kg per day.
Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different medication schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Hypocalcemia in people with hypoparathyroidism

Brand: Rocatrol

Form: Oral capsule
Strengths: 0.25 mcg, 0.5 mcg

Generic: Calcitriol

Form: Oral capsule
Strengths: 0.25 mcg, 0.5 mcg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 0.25 mcg once per day.
  • Dosage increases: Every 4–8 weeks, your doctor will slowly increase your dosage. Your doctor will change your dosage based on the results of your lab tests. These check things such as your calcium levels.   
Child dosage (ages 6–17 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 0.25 mcg once per day.
  • Dosage increases: Every 4–8 weeks, your child’s doctor will likely increase the dosage.
  • Maximum dosage: 2 mcg once per day.
Child dosage (ages 1–5 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 0.25 mcg once per day.
  • Dosage increases: Every 4–8 weeks, your child’s doctor will likely increase the dosage.
  • Maximum dosage: 0.75 mcg once per day.
Child dosage (ages 0–1 year)

It hasn’t been confirmed that calcitriol is safe and effective for use in people younger than 1 year who have low levels of parathyroid hormone.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different medication schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Calcitriol capsules come with risks if you don’t take them as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

Your parathyroid hormone levels may not be controlled. You may have even lower calcium levels and worsening bone disease.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • extreme weakness
  • drowsiness
  • muscle or bone pain
  • increased urination
  • increased thirst
  • severe nausea and vomiting
  • severe constipation
  • weight loss

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

Blood tests should show that your calcium and phosphorus levels are in balance. Also, your parathyroid levels should be within a normal range.

Calcitriol is used for long-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking calcitriol
take with or without food
You can take calcitriol capsules with or without food
timing
Take this drug at the time(s) recommended by your doctor
storage
Store this drug carefully
See Details
refillable
A prescription for this medication is refillable
See Details
travel
Travel
See Details
clinical monitoring
Clinical monitoring
See Details
diet considerations
Your diet
See Details
not usually stocked
Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead.
prior authorization
Insurance
See Details

Store this drug carefully

  • Store calcitriol at room temperature between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C).
  • Don’t freeze or refrigerate this drug.
  • Keep this drug away from light.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor should monitor certain health issues. This can help make sure you stay safe while you take this drug. These issues include:

  • Electrolyte and hormone levels. Blood tests can measure levels such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, or parathyroid hormone in your body.
  • Kidney function. Blood tests can check how well your kidneys are working.

Your diet

Your doctor may suggest that you take in a certain amount of calcium each day. Ask your doctor if you should take a calcium supplement.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor may need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

SECTION 5 of 5

How Much Does calcitriol Cost?

Oral capsule

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Lowest price for calcitriol

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for calcitriol on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for calcitriol on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on December 15, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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