Generic Name: paricalcitol
Dosage Form: injection, solution
Medically reviewed on October 1, 2017
Zemplar Injection Description
Paricalcitol, USP, the active ingredient in Zemplar Injection, is a synthetically manufactured analog of calcitriol, the metabolically active form of vitamin D indicated for the prevention and treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism associated with chronic kidney disease(CKD) Stage 5. Zemplar is available as a sterile, clear, colorless, aqueous solution for intravenous injection. Each mL contains paricalcitol, 2 mcg or 5 mcg and the following inactive ingredients: alcohol, 20% (v/v) and propylene glycol, 30% (v/v).
Zemplar Injection - Clinical Pharmacology
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 and from dietary intake. Vitamin D requires 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. 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.
Mechanism of Action
Paricalcitol is a synthetic, biologically active vitamin D analog of calcitriol with modifications to the side chain (D2) and the A (19-nor) ring. 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.
Within two hours after administering Zemplar intravenous doses ranging from 0.04 to 0.24 mcg/kg, concentrations of paricalcitol decreased rapidly; thereafter, concentrations of paricalcitol declined log-linearly. No accumulation of paricalcitol was observed with three times a week dosing.Distribution
Paricalcitol is extensively bound to plasma proteins (≥99.8%). In healthy subjects, the steady state volume of distribution is approximately 23.8 L. The mean volume of distribution following a 0.24 mcg/kg dose of paricalcitol in CKD Stage 5 subjects requiring hemodialysis (HD) and peritoneal dialysis (PD) is between 31 and 35 L.Metabolism
After IV administration of a 0.48 mcg/kg dose of 3H-paricalcitol, parent drug was extensively metabolized, with only about 2% of the dose eliminated unchanged in the feces and no parent drug 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 (present at low levels in plasma), as well as 24,26- and 24,28-dihydroxylation and direct glucuronidation.Elimination
Paricalcitol is excreted primarily by hepatobiliary excretion. Approximately 63% of the radioactivity was eliminated in the feces and 19% was recovered in the urine in healthy subjects. In healthy subjects, the mean elimination half-life of paricalcitol is about five to seven hours over the studied dose range of 0.04 to 0.16 mcg/kg. The pharmacokinetics of paricalcitol has been studied in CKD Stage 5 subjects requiring hemodialysis (HD) and peritoneal dialysis (PD). The mean elimination half-life of paricalcitol after administration of 0.24 mcg/kg paricalcitol IV bolus dose in CKD Stage 5 HD and PD patients is 13.9 and 15.4 hours, respectively (Table 1).
|CKD Stage 5-HD
|CKD Stage 5-PD
|Cmax (ng/mL)||1.680 ± 0.511||1.832 ± 0.315|
|AUC0-∞ (ng·h/mL)||14.51 ± 4.12||16.01 ± 5.98|
|β (1/h)||0.050 ± 0.023||0.045 ± 0.026|
|t1/2 (h) †||13.9 ± 7.3||15.4 ± 10.5|
|CL (L/h)||1.49 ± 0.60||1.54 ± 0.95|
|Vdβ (L)||30.8 ± 7.5||34.9 ± 9.5|
|† harmonic mean ± pseudo standard deviation, HD: hemodialysis, PD: peritoneal dialysis|
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 were 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.
The pharmacokinetics of paricalcitol have been studied in CKD Stage 5 subjects requiring hemodialysis (HD) and peritoneal dialysis (PD). Hemodialysis procedure has essentially no effect on paricalcitol elimination. However, compared to healthy subjects, CKD Stage 5 subjects showed a decreased CL and increased half-life (see Pharmacokinetics -Elimination).
An in vitro study indicates that paricalcitol is not an inhibitor of CYP1A2, CYP2A6, CYP2B6, CYP2C8, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, CYP2D6, CYP2E1, or CYP3A at concentrations up to 50 nM (21 ng/mL) (approximately 20-fold greater than that obtained after highest tested dose). In fresh primary cultured hepatocytes, the induction observed at paricalcitol concentrations up to 50 nM was less than two-fold for CYP2B6, CYP2C9 or CYP3A, where the positive controls rendered a six- to nineteen-fold induction. Hence, paricalcitol is not expected to inhibit or induce the clearance of drugs metabolized by these enzymes.Omeprazole
The pharmacokinetic interaction between paricalcitol capsule (16 mcg) and omeprazole (40 mg; oral), a strong inhibitor of CYP2C19, was investigated in a single dose, crossover study in healthy subjects. The pharmacokinetics of paricalcitol were unaffected when omeprazole was administrated approximately 2 hours prior to the paricalcitol dose.Ketoconazole
Although no data are available for the drug interaction between paricalcitol injection and ketoconazole, a strong inhibitor of CYP3A, the effect of multiple doses of ketoconazole administered as 200 mg BID for 5 days on the pharmacokinetics of paricalcitol 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 PRECAUTIONS).
In three 12-week, placebo-controlled, phase 3 studies in chronic kidney disease Stage 5 patients on dialysis, the dose of Zemplar was started at 0.04 mcg/kg 3 times per week. The dose was increased by 0.04 mcg/kg every 2 weeks until intact parathyroid hormone (iPTH) levels were decreased at least 30% from baseline or a fifth escalation brought the dose to 0.24 mcg/kg, or iPTH fell to less than 100 pg/mL, or the Ca × P product was greater than 75 within any 2 week period, or serum calcium became greater than 11.5 mg/dL at any time.
Patients treated with Zemplar achieved a mean iPTH reduction of 30% within 6 weeks. In these studies, there was no significant difference in the incidence of hypercalcemia or hyperphosphatemia between Zemplar and placebo-treated patients. The results from these studies are as follows:
(No. of Pts.)
|Mean (SE) Change From Baseline to Final Evaluation|
|PTH (pg/mL)||Zemplar (n = 40)||783 (291 – 2076)||-379 (43.7)|
|placebo (n = 38)||745 (320 –1671)||-69.6 (44.8)|
|Alkaline||Zemplar (n = 31)||150 (40 – 600)||-41.5 (10.6)|
|Phosphatase (U/L)||placebo (n = 34)||169 (56 – 911)||+2.6 (10.1)|
|Calcium (mg/dL)||Zemplar (n = 40)||9.3 (7.2 – 10.4)||+0.47 (0.1)|
|placebo (n = 38)||9.1 (7.8 – 10.7)||+0.02 (0.1)|
|Phosphorus (mg/dL)||Zemplar (n = 40)||5.8 (3.7 – 10.2)||+0.47 (0.3)|
|placebo (n = 38)||6.0 (2.8 – 8.8)||-0.47 (0.3)|
|Calcium ×||Zemplar (n = 40)||54 (32 – 106)||+7.9 (2.2)|
|Phosphorus Product||placebo (n = 38)||54 (26 – 77)||-3.9 (2.3)|
A long-term, open-label safety study of 164 CKD Stage 5 patients (mean dose of 7.5 mcg three times per week), demonstrated that mean serum Ca, P, and Ca × P remained within clinically appropriate ranges with PTH reduction (mean decrease of 319 pg/mL at 13 months).
Indications and Usage for Zemplar Injection
Zemplar should not be given to patients with evidence of vitamin D toxicity, hypercalcemia, or hypersensitivity to any ingredient in this product (see WARNINGS).
Acute overdose of Zemplar may cause hypercalcemia, and require emergency attention (see OVERDOSAGE). During dose adjustment, serum calcium and phosphorus levels should be monitored closely (e.g., twice weekly). If clinically significant hypercalcemia develops, the dose should be reduced or interrupted. Chronic administration of Zemplar may place patients at risk of hypercalcemia, elevated Ca × P product, and metastatic calcification. Chronic hypercalcemia can lead to generalized vascular calcification and other soft-tissue calcification.
Concomitant administration of high doses of calcium-containing preparations or thiazide diueretics with Zemplar may increase the risk of hypercalcemia. High intake of calcium and phosphate concomitant with vitamin D compounds may lead to serum abnormalities requiring more frequent patient monitoring and individualized dose titration. Patients also should be informed about the symptoms of elevated calcium, which include feeling tired, difficulty thinking clearly, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, increased thirst, increased urination and weight loss.
Digitalis toxicity is potentiated by hypercalcemia of any cause, so caution should be applied when digitalis compounds are prescribed concomitantly with Zemplar. Adynamic bone lesions may develop if PTH levels are suppressed to abnormal levels.
Information for the Patient
The patient should be instructed that, to ensure effectiveness of Zemplar therapy, it is important to adhere to a dietary regimen of calcium supplementation and phosphorus restriction. Appropriate types of phosphate-binding compounds may be needed to control serum phosphorus levels in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) Stage 5, but excessive use of aluminum containing compounds should be avoided (see WARNINGS). Patients should also be carefully informed about the symptoms of elevated calcium (see WARNINGS).
During the initial phase of medication, serum calcium and phosphorus should be determined frequently (e.g., twice weekly). Once dosage has been established, serum calcium and phosphorus should be measured at least monthly. Measurements of serum or plasma PTH are recommended every 3 months. During dose adjustment of Zemplar, laboratory tests may be required more frequently.
Specific interaction studies were not performed with Zemplar Injection. Paricalcitol is not expected to inhibit the clearance of drugs metabolized by cytochrome P450 enzymes CYP1A2, CYP2A6, CYP2B6, CYP2C8, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, CYP2D6, CYP2E1, or CYP3A nor induce the clearance of drug metabolized by CYP2B6, CYP2C9 or CYP3A.
A multiple dose drug-drug interaction study with ketoconazole and paricalcitol capsule demonstrated that ketoconazole approximately doubled paricalcitol AUC0-∞ (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY). Since paricalcitol is partially metabolized by CYP3A and ketoconazole is known to be a strong inhibitor of cytochrome P450 3A enzyme, care should be taken while paricalcitol is co-administered with ketoconazole and other strong P450 3A inhibitors including the following drugs but not limited to: atazanavir, clarithromycin, indinavir, itraconazole, nefazodone, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, telithromycin or voriconazole.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
In a 104-week carcinogenicity study in CD-1 mice, an increased incidence of uterine leiomyoma and leiomyosarcoma was observed at subcutaneous doses of 1, 3, 10 mcg/kg (2 to 15 times the AUC at a human dose of 14 mcg, equivalent to 0.24 mcg/kg based on AUC). The incidence rate of uterine leiomyoma was significantly different than the control group at the highest dose of 10 mcg/kg.
In a 104-week carcinogenicity study in rats, there was an increased incidence of benign adrenal pheochromocytoma at subcutaneous doses of 0.15, 0.5, 1.5 mcg/kg (< 1 to 7 times the exposure following a human dose of 14 mcg, equivalent to 0.24 mcg/kg based on AUC). The increased incidence of pheochromocytomas in rats may be related to the alteration of calcium homeostasis by paricalcitol.
Paricalcitol did not exhibit genetic toxicity in vitro with or without metabolic activation in the microbial mutagenesis assay (Ames Assay), mouse lymphoma mutagenesis assay (L5178Y), or a human lymphocyte cell chromosomal aberration assay. There was also no evidence of genetic toxicity in an in vivo mouse micronucleus assay. Zemplar had no effect on fertility (male or female) in rats at intravenous doses up to 20 mcg/kg/dose [equivalent to 13 times the highest recommended human dose (0.24 mcg/kg) based on surface area, mg/m2].
PregnancyPregnancy Category C
Paricalcitol has been shown to cause minimal decreases in fetal viability (5%) when administered daily to rabbits at a dose 0.5 times the 0.24 mcg/kg human dose (based on surface area, mg/m2) and when administered to rats at a dose 2 times the 0.24 mcg/kg human dose (based on plasma levels of exposure). At the highest dose tested (20 mcg/kg 3 times per week in rats, 13 times the 0.24 mcg/kg human dose based on surface area), there was a significant increase of the mortality of newborn rats at doses that were maternally toxic (hypercalcemia). No other effects on offspring development were observed. Paricalcitol was not teratogenic at the doses tested.
Studies in rats have shown that paricalcitol is present in the milk. It is not known whether paricalcitol is excreted in human milk. In the nursing patient, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.
The safety and effectiveness of Zemplar were examined in a 12-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 29 pediatric patients, aged 5-19 years, with end-stage renal disease on hemodialysis and nearly all had received some form of vitamin D prior to the study. Seventy-six percent of the patients were male, 52% were Caucasian and 45% were African-American. The initial dose of Zemplar was 0.04 mcg/kg 3 times per week based on baseline iPTH level of less than 500 pg/mL, or 0.08 mcg/kg 3 times a week, based on baseline iPTH level of ≥ 500 pg/mL, respectively. The dose of Zemplar was adjusted in 0.04 mcg/kg increments based on the levels of serum iPTH, calcium and Ca x P. The mean baseline levels of iPTH were 841 pg/mL for the 15 Zemplar-treated patients and 740 pg/mL for the 14 placebo-treated subjects. The mean dose of Zemplar administered was 4.6 mcg (range: 0.8 mcg – 9.6 mcg). Ten of the 15 (67%) Zemplar-treated patients and 2 of the 14 (14%) placebo-treated patients completed the trial. Ten of the placebo patients (71%) were discontinued due to excessive elevations in iPTH levels as defined by 2 consecutive iPTH levels > 700 pg/mL and greater than baseline after 4 weeks of treatment.
In the primary efficacy analysis, 9 of 15 (60%) subjects in the Zemplar group had 2 consecutive 30% decreases from baseline iPTH compared with 3 of 14 (21%) patients in the placebo group (95% CI for the difference between groups –1%, 63%). Twenty-three percent of Zemplar vs. 31% of placebo patients had at least one serum calcium level > 10.3 mg/dL, and 40% vs. 14% of Zemplar vs. placebo subjects had at least one Ca x P ion product > 72 (mg/dL)2. The overall percentage of serum calcium measurements > 10.3 mg/dL was 7% in the Zemplar group and 7% in the placebo group; the overall percentage of patients with Ca x P product > 72 (mg/dL)2 was 8% in the Zemplar group and 7% in the placebo group. No subjects in either the Zemplar group or placebo group developed hypercalcemia (defined as at least one calcium value > 11.2 mg/dL) during the study.
Of the 40 patients receiving Zemplar in the three phase 3 placebo-controlled CKD Stage 5 studies, 10 patients were 65 years or over. In these studies, no overall differences in efficacy or safety were observed between patients 65 years or older and younger patients.
Zemplar has been evaluated for safety in clinical studies in 609 CKD Stage 5 patients. In four, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter studies, discontinuation of therapy due to any adverse event occurred in 6.5% of 62 patients treated with Zemplar (dosage titrated as tolerated, see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY - Clinical Studies) and 2.0% of 51 patients treated with placebo for 1 to 3 months. Adverse events occurring in the Zemplar group at a frequency of 2% or greater and with an incidence greater than that in the placebo group, regardless of causality, are presented in the following table:
|Adverse Event||Zemplar (n = 62)
|Placebo (n = 51)
|General Disorders and Administration Site Conditions|
|Infections and Infestations|
|Musculoskeletal and Connective Tissue Disorders|
Safety parameters (changes in mean Ca, P, Ca × P) in an open-label safety study up to 13 months in duration support the long-term safety of Zemplar in this patient population (see CLINICAL STUDIES).
Other Adverse Reactions Observed During Clinical Evaluation of Zemplar Injection
The following adverse reactions, with a causal relationship to Zemplar, occurred in <2% of the Zemplar treated patients in the above double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial data set. In addition, the following also includes adverse reactions reported in Zemplar-treated patients who participated in other studies (non placebo-controlled), including double-blind, active-controlled and open-label studies:
Additional Adverse Events Reported During Post-marketing Experience
Overdosage of Zemplar may lead to hypercalcemia, hypercalciuria, hyperphosphatemia, and over suppression of PTH. (see WARNINGS).
Treatment of Overdosage and Hypercalcemia
The treatment of acute overdosage should consist of general supportive measures. 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 acute overdosage.
General treatment of hypercalcemia due to overdosage consists of immediate dose reduction or suspension of Zemplar therapy, institution of a low calcium diet, withdrawal of calcium supplements, patient mobilization, and attention to fluid and electrolyte imbalances. Serum calcium levels should be determined at least weekly until normocalcemia ensues. When serum calcium levels have returned to within normal limits, Zemplar may be reinitiated at a lower dose. If persistent and markedly elevated serum calcium levels occur, there are a variety of therapeutic alternatives that may be considered. These include the use of drugs such as phosphates and corticosteroids as well as measures to induce diuresis. Also, one may consider dialysis against a calcium-free dialysate.
Zemplar Injection Dosage and Administration
If a satisfactory response is not observed, the dose may be increased by 2 to 4 mcg at 2- to 4-week intervals. During any dose adjustment period, serum calcium and phosphorus levels should be monitored more frequently, and if an elevated calcium level or a Ca × P product greater than 75 is noted, the drug dosage should be immediately reduced or interrupted until these parameters are normalized. Then, Zemplar should be reinitiated at a lower dose. If a patient is on a calcium-based phosphate binder, the dose may be decreased or withheld, or the patient may be switched to a non-calcium-based phosphate binder. Zemplar doses may need to be decreased as the PTH levels decrease in response to therapy. Thus, incremental dosing must be individualized.
|PTH Level||Zemplar Dose|
|the same or increasing||increase|
|decreasing by < 30%||increase|
|decreasing by > 30%, < 60%||maintain|
|decreasing by > 60%||decrease|
|one and one-half to three times upper limit of normal||maintain|
After initial vial use, the contents of the multi-dose vial remain stable up to seven days when stored at controlled room temperature (see HOW SUPPLIED). Discard unused portion of the single-dose vial.
How is Zemplar Injection Supplied
|List No.||Volume/Container||Concentration||Total Content||Vial Type|
|4637-01||1 mL/Fliptop Vial||2 mcg/mL||2 mcg||Single-dose|
|1658-01||1 mL/Fliptop Vial||5 mcg/mL||5 mcg||Single-dose|
|1658–05||2 mL/Fliptop Vial||5 mcg/mL||10 mcg||Multi-dose|
paricalcitol injection, solution
paricalcitol injection, solution
|Labeler - AbbVie Inc. (078458370)|
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- Drug class: vitamins
- Paricalcitol (AHFS Monograph)
- Paricalcitol Capsules (FDA)
- Paricalcitol Injection (FDA)
- Paricalcitol (Wolters Kluwer)
Other brands: Zemplar