Calcijex, Rocaltrol
Classifications: vitamin d analog;
Therapeutic: vitamin d analog

Pregnancy Category: C


0.25 mcg, 0.5 mcg tablets; 1 mcg/mL oral solution; 1 mcg/mL, 2 mcg/mL injection


Synthetic form of an active metabolite of ergocalciferol (vitamin D2). In the liver, cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) and ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) are enzymatically metabolized to calcifediol, an activated form of vitamin D3. Calcifediol is biodegraded in the kidney to calcitriol, the most potent form of vitamin D3. Patients with nonfunctioning kidneys are unable to synthesize sufficient calcitriol.

Therapeutic Effect

By promoting intestinal absorption and renal retention of calcium, calcitriol elevates serum calcium levels, decreases elevated blood levels of phosphate and parathyroid hormone, and decreases subperiosteal bone resorption and mineralization defects.


Management of hypocalcemia in patients undergoing chronic renal dialysis and in patients with hypoparathyroidism or pseudohypoparathyroidism.

Unlabeled Uses

Selected patients with vitamin D–dependent rickets, familial hypophosphatemia (vitamin D–resistant rickets); management of hypocalcemia in premature infants.


Hypercalcemia or vitamin D toxicity; pregnancy (category C).

Cautious Use

Hyperphosphatemia, renal failure; elderly; sarcoidosis; patients receiving digitalis glycosides.

Route & Dosage

Adult: PO 0.25 mcg/d, may be increased by 0.25 mcg/d q4–8wk for dialysis patients or q2–4wk for hypoparathyroid patients if necessary IV 0.5 mcg 3 times/wk at the end of dialysis, may need up to 3 mcg 3 times/wk
Child: PO On hemodialysis: 0.25–2 mcg/d IV 0.01–0.05 mcg/kg 3 times/wk PO Renal failure without dialysis: 0.014–0.041 mcg/kg/d


  • Oral dose can be taken either with food or milk or on an empty stomach. Discuss with physician.
  • When given for hypoparathyroidism, the dose is given in the morning.
  • Capsules should be protected from heat, light, and moisture. Store in tightly closed container.

PREPARE: Direct: Give undiluted.  

ADMINISTER: Direct: Give IV push over 30–60 sec.  

Adverse Effects (≥1%)

Body as a Whole: Muscle or bone pain. CV: Palpitation. GI: Anorexia, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, thirst, constipation, abdominal cramps, metallic taste. Metabolic: Vitamin D intoxication, hypercalcemia, hypercalciuria, hyperphosphatemia. CNS: Headache, weakness. Special Senses: Blurred vision, photophobia. Urogenital: Increased urination.


Drug: thiazide diuretics may cause hypercalcemia; calcifediol-induced hypercalcemia may precipitate digitalis arrhythmias in patients receiving digitalis glycosides.


Absorption: Readily absorbed from GI tract. Onset: 2–6 h. Peak: 10–12 h. Duration: 3–5 d. Metabolism: In liver. Elimination: Mainly in feces. Half-Life: 3–6 h.

Nursing Implications

Assessment & Drug Effects

  • Lab tests: Determine baseline and periodic levels of serum calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, alkaline phosphatase, creatinine; measure urinary calcium and phosphorus levels q24h.
  • Effectiveness of therapy depends on an adequate daily intake of calcium and phosphate. The physician may prescribe a calcium supplement on an as-needed basis.
  • Monitor for hypercalcemia (see Signs & Symptoms, Appendix F). During dosage adjustment period, monitor serum calcium levels particularly twice weekly to avoid hypercalcemia.
  • If hypercalcemia develops, withhold calcitriol and calcium supplements and notify physician. Drugs may be reinitiated when serum calcium returns to normal.

Patient & Family Education

  • Discontinue the drug if experiencing any symptoms of hypercalcemia (see Appendix F) and contact physician.
  • Do not use any other source of vitamin D during therapy, since calcitriol is the most potent form of vitamin D3. This will avoid the possibility of hypercalcemia.
  • Consult physician before taking an OTC medication. (Many products contain calcium, vitamin D, phosphates, or magnesium, which can increase adverse effects of calcitriol.)
  • Maintain an adequate daily fluid intake unless you have kidney problems, in which case consult your physician about fluids.

Common adverse effects in italic, life-threatening effects underlined; generic names in bold; classifications in SMALL CAPS; Canadian drug name; Prototype drug

© 2006-2023 Last Updated On: 02/01/2023 (0)
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