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      Comparison of oral and intravenous Alfacalcidol in chronic hemodialysis patients

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          Activated vitamin D is the mainstay of treatment for secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHPT) in chronic hemodialysis patients. However, the optimal route of administration is still debated. The aim of our study was to compare efficacy of oral vs intravenous (IV) administration of alfacalcidol in hemodialysis. A secondary objective was to determine the cost-effectiveness advantage of oral administration.


          Eighty-eight chronic hemodialysis patients receiving IV alfacalcidol three times a week were included in the study. All were switched to the same dose of alfacalcidol given orally three times a week during the hemodialysis session. A budget impact analysis was performed.


          Mean patient age was 64 years old and 43% were males. The mean alfacalcidol dose administered was 2.1 μg three times a week. After three months, serum parathormone (PTH) levels decreased from 80 to 59 pmol/L (p = 0.001) and total serum calcium levels increased from 2.34 to 2.40 mmol/L (p = 0.002). After six months, total serum calcium levels were still significantly higher. Alfacalcidol dosage was significantly decreased during study period; the mean reduction was 0.44 μg per dose. Finally, oral administration was associated with an annual cost reduction of 197 678$CAN and an annual nursing time reduction of 25 days.


          Our findings support that switching IV to oral administration of alfacalcidol during hemodialysis sessions may lead to a similar control of SHPT with lower doses of activated vitamin D. This is a good strategy for optimizing compliance and may allow a dose reduction because of a greater efficacy to suppress PTH. Oral administration also has significant cost-effectiveness advantages.

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          Most cited references 29

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          Vitamin D supplementation in chronic kidney disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies and randomized controlled trials.

          Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent among patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The benefits and harms of vitamin D supplementation (ergocalciferol or cholecalciferol) were assessed in patients with nondialysis-dependent CKD, dialysis-dependent CKD, and renal transplant recipients. MEDLINE (1966 to September 2009), SCOPUS (September 2009), and nephrology conference proceedings were searched for relevant observational and randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Treatment effects were summarized as mean differences (MDs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using a random effects model. Separate analyses were conducted for observational studies and RCTs. Twenty-two studies (17 observational and 5 RCTs) were included. There was a significant improvement in 25-hydroxyvitamin D (MD 24.1 ng/ml, 95% CI 19.6 to 28.6) and an associated decline in parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels (MD -41.7 pg/ml, 95% CI -55.8 to -27.7) among observational studies. PTH reduction was higher in dialysis patients. Among RCTs, there was a significant improvement in 25-hydroxyvitamin D (MD 14 ng/ml, 95% CI 5.6 to 22.4) and an associated decline in PTH levels (MD -31.5 pg/ml, 95% CI -57 to -6.1). A low incidence of hypercalcemia and hyperphosphatemia was reported with vitamin D supplementation. Cardiovascular and skeletal effects of vitamin D supplementation have not been studied. Included studies were mostly of low to moderate quality. Available evidence from low-to-moderate quality observational studies and fewer RCTs suggests that vitamin D supplementation improves biochemical endpoints. However, whether such improvements translate into clinically significant outcomes is yet to be determined.
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            Meta-analysis: vitamin D compounds in chronic kidney disease.

            Vitamin D compounds are widely used to prevent and treat secondary hyperparathyroidism. To determine whether vitamin D therapy improves biochemical markers of mineral metabolism and cardiovascular and mortality outcomes in chronic kidney disease. MEDLINE (January 1966 to July 2007), EMBASE (January 1980 to July 2007), and Cochrane databases were searched without language restriction. Randomized, controlled trials of vitamin D compounds in chronic kidney disease were identified. Two authors independently extracted data. Seventy-six trials were identified for inclusion; 3667 participants were enrolled. Vitamin D compounds did not reduce the risk for death, bone pain, vascular calcification, or parathyroidectomy. Compared with placebo, established vitamin D sterols were associated with an increased risk for hypercalcemia (relative risk, 2.37 [95% CI, 1.16 to 4.85]) and hyperphosphatemia (relative risk, 1.77 [CI, 1.15 to 2.74]) but did not show a consistent reduction in parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels. Compared with placebo, more recently developed vitamin D analogues were associated with hypercalcemia (relative risk, 5.15 [CI, 1.06 to 24.97]) but not hyperphosphatemia, and levels of PTH were reduced (weighted mean difference, -10.77 pmol/L [CI, -20.51 to -1.03 pmol/L]). For suppression of PTH, intravenous administration was superior to oral vitamin D, but higher intravenous doses were used. Few studies reported patient-level outcomes, including mortality (8 of 76 trials), and only 5 trials directly compared the effects of treatment with newer vitamin D compounds versus established ones. Heterogeneity in some comparisons remained unexplained by metaregression analyses. Vitamin D compounds do not consistently reduce PTH levels, and beneficial effects on patient-level outcomes are unproven. The value of vitamin D treatment for people with chronic kidney disease remains uncertain.
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              Outcomes of secondary hyperparathyroidism in chronic kidney disease and the direct costs of treatment.

              There has been an emphasis over the last several years to identify and treat chronic kidney disease (CKD) and its complications as they evolve rather than waiting until the patient reaches end-stage renal disease (ESRD), also known as CKD stage 5. The number of patients who will be identified and prescribed therapies for complications such as secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHPT) is greater than initially proposed. To review the pathways, complications, management, and estimated treatment costs of CKD-related SHPT. An electronic literature search of MEDLINE (January 1980 through January 2007) was conducted for English-language publications using the base search term secondary hyperparathyroidism. To refine subsequent searches, the authors added Boolean operators to the following secondary and tertiary search terms: parathyroid hormone, chronic kidney disease, renal osteodystrophy, adynamic bone disease, vascular calcification, cardiovascular disease, vitamin D, vitamin D analogs, hypercalcemia, hyperphosphatemia, calcimimetics, costs, prevalence, and economics. The initial MEDLINE search produced 278 relevant articles. After refining the search terms, the authors triaged the results for English-language publications relevant to the discussion of SHPT and its complications in CKD, eliminating 149 publications. The remaining 129 publications were accepted for review. These articles represent a growing body of primarily observational evidence that demonstrates that elevated intact parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels cause deleterious physiological results across a variety of organ systems, including the cardiovascular and skeletal systems. Specific complications associated with SHPT are left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), renal osteodystrophy (ROD), and extraskeletal calcification. Medical management of the PTH/vitamin D/calcium and phosphorus imbalances in SHPT focus on regulating PTH levels via vitamin D therapy. The class of calcimimetics is a newer treatment modality that has favorable effects on biochemical laboratory values, such as serum calcium and phosphorus levels, but current data do not show differences on hard endpoint patient-oriented outcomes compared with standard generic agents. The direct drug costs in April 2007 U.S. dollars of treating CKD-associated elevations in PTH in predialysis patients range from $8.40 per patient per week ($437 per year) for oral generic calcitriol to $88.90 per patient per week ($4,623 per year) for oral paricalcitol (expressed as 85% of average wholesale price [AWP] for brand drugs or 70% of AWP for generic drugs). The direct drug costs of treating SHPT in hemodialysis patients range from $80.20 per patient per week ($4,170 per year) for generic calcitriol (IV) to $278.46 per patient per week ($14,480 per year) for oral cinacalcet. SHPT causes skeletal and cardiovascular complications in CKD patients. Calcitriol therapy is effective in managing PTH levels, but efforts to reduce the associated hypercalcemia and hyperphosphatemia have led to the development of newer, yet more expensive, vitamin D analogs. With the lack of evidence to support comparative superior outcomes in end-organ disease among SHPT therapy alternatives, future research is still needed to clearly identify which newer agents are most competitive with the historical gold standard of calcitriol therapy.

                Author and article information

                BMC Nephrol
                BMC Nephrol
                BMC Nephrology
                BioMed Central
                4 February 2014
                : 15
                : 27
                [1 ]Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, 5415 Boulevard de l′Assomption, Montréal H1T 2 M4, Québec, Canada
                Copyright © 2014 Lessard et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.

                Research Article


                end-stage renal failure, alfacalcidol administration, hyperparathyroidism


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