Medications for End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD)

The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included. Ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications only as recommended by your doctor, and according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor. If you have high blood pressure , hyperlipidemia , or diabetes , medications will likely be ordered to control these conditions. Leakage of protein from the urine is treated with two drugs used in the treatment of high blood pressure: angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). In addition, medications may be needed to treat complications of kidney disease. There are no medications to cure or reverse kidney failure.

Prescription Medications

Cinacalcet HCL
  • Sensipar
  • Furosemide (Lasix)
  • Bumetanide (Bumex)
  • Renagel
Recombinant human erythropoietin (epoetin alfa)
  • Epogen
  • Procrit

Over-the-Counter Medications

Sodium bicarbonateCalcium carbonate or calcium acetate

Prescription Medications

Cinacalcet HCL
  • Common name: Sensipar
In chronic renal disease, a disturbance in calcium, phosphate, and vitamin D metabolism leads to a condition called secondary hyperparathyroidism . It is characterized by abnormally high levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH) in the blood. The high PTH levels lead to uremic bone disease. Cinacalcet HCL is effective in lowering the elevated PTH levels in chronic renal failure patients. It is taken by mouth. Possible side effects include:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Transient low blood calcium level
  • Furosemide (Lasix)
  • Bumetanide (Bumex )
Diuretics help rid the body of excess fluid. These medications are sometimes referred to as water pills. Diuretics may be taken by mouth or, in some cases, by injection.Possible side effects include:
  • Lightheadedness
  • Mouth dryness
  • Weakness
  • Frequent urination
SevelamerCommon name: RenagelThis agent, which is taken by mouth, binds phosphate to prevent increased blood phosphate levels that can lead to weakening of bones. The medication does not contain calcium, aluminum, or magnesium.Possible side effects include:
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
Recombinant Human Erythropoietin (Epoetin Alfa)Common names include:
  • Epogen
  • Procrit
This drug is injected and used to treat anemia associated with renal failure. It stimulates the production of red blood cells.Possible side effects include:
  • Headache
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Joint aches
  • Nausea

Over the Counter Medications

Sodium BicarbonateTypically taken orally, sodium bicarbonate may be ordered if you develop a condition called metabolic acidosis. This is an excess of acid in the blood due to alterations in metabolism from kidney failure.If you need to use sodium bicarbonate, you should review your dietary sodium intake with your physician or dietician. This medication will increase the sodium in your diet.Calcium Carbonate or Calcium AcetateCalcium supplements are given to bind phosphate to maintain phosphate levels within a range that will not increase bone loss. These drugs are taken orally.Possible side effects include:
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Slow heart rate
Special ConsiderationsWhenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:
  • Take your medication as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Do not stop taking them without talking to your doctor.
  • Do not share them.
  • Ask what the results and side effects may be. Report them to your doctor.
  • Some drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one drug. This includes over-the-counter medication and herb or dietary supplements.
  • Plan ahead for refills so you do not run out.
When to Contact Your DoctorCall your healthcare provider if you develop side effects from the medications or you have:
  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lightheadedness or weakness


leave comments
Did you like this? Share with your family and friends.
Related Topics:
Current Research From Top Journals

Music May Improve Sleep Quality in Adults with Insomnia
October 2015

Insomnia can make your days miserable and a cure can be hard to find. There are some medications but there is some worry with side effects and the potential for addiction. Music is side effect free and according to this study may help you find sleep.

dot separator
previous editions

CPAP May Help Older Adults with Obstructive Sleep Apnea
September 2015

Water Before Meals May Promote Weight Loss
August 2015

Fecal Transplants Induce Ulcerative Colitis Remission
July 2015

dashed separator


Our Free Newsletter
click here to see all of our uplifting newsletters »