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Oakwood Kidney Institute

Common medications used in kidney failure are listed below:  

Indications and goals of treatment are recommended by the National Kidney Foundation which can be accessed at the K/DOQI site.

​   Anemia    

Erythropoietin (Procrit, Epogen, Aranesp) is used in a subcutaneous injection every 1-4 weeks to correct the anemia.

Iron (Ferrous Sulfate, Ferrous Fumarate, Venofer injection, Ferrilicit injection) is used to replete iron stores in the body to help erythropoietin produce red blood cells and correct the anemia.

   Bone disease 

Phosphorous binders (Oscal,Tums, Phoslo) are older medications used as phosphate binders. They are taken with food for proper action.  Newer medications (Renagel, Fosrenol) are also phosphate binders which your doctor can consider prescribing on individual basis.

Parathyroid suppression (Rocaltrol, Hectrol, Calcijex, Sensipar) are prescribed to suppress the over-active parathyroid glands. These are given orally or intravenously during your dialysis.


All oral medications except Glucophage are acceptable in kidney failure.  Lower doses may be required in kidney failure which can be adjusted with the help of your physician.

Insulin (Lantus, Regular, 70/30, Lente) can be prescribed by your physician in kidney failure.  Lower doses may be required in kidney failure which can be adjusted with the help of your physician.


Kayexalate is commonly prescribed to lower the potassium rapidly in your blood. High potassium is potentially dangerous (cardiac arrest) and has to be treated rapidly.  Following a low potassium diet if prescribed by your physician is essential in maintaining your potassium in reasonable range.


  • ACE inhibitors Lisinopril, Enalapril etc. are the mainstay for treating chronic kidney disease.  In addition to controlling the blood pressure, they have the additional benefit of preserving the kidney function.  Like all other medications, they work better in some patients and less well in others.  Combining an ARB with ACE inhibitor may provide additional benefit in some patients. Side effects such as dry cough and hyperkalemia are common. Hyperkalemia should be watched for and some patients should follow a strict low potassium diet.

  • ARBs Cozaar, Benicar etc. lower blood pressure and preserve kidney function.  Some patients respond better than others.  They are sometimes combined with ACE inhibitors.  Hyperkalemia should be watched for and some patients should follow a strict low potassium diet.

  • Beta-blockers  Atenolol, Metoprolol, Propranolol lower blood pressure. Since kidney patients are at risk of heart disease, these medications are considered by your physician.              

  • Calcium channel blockers  Verapamil, Diltiazem are used to control the blood pressure.  They may help reduce the proteinuria in some patients.

  • Centrally acting agents   Clonidine, Guanfacine are blood pressure controlling agents.

  • Diuretics   Furosemide (Lasix), Demadex, Bumex are used to control the fluid retention.  Hydrochlorthiazide (HCTZ) is sometimes used with other medications to lower the blood pressure.

  • Alpha-blockers  Cardura etc. are used to control the blood pressure.  They may also help some men with prostate enlargement.


Many antibiotics need adjustment in kidney failure.  Discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist.


Patients with poor nutrition are sometimes prescribed Megace to stimulate the appetite in addition to nutrition supplements.

   Pain Meds   

Patients are advised to avoid Darvocet if their kidney function is low.  Other medications may need adjustment in dosage. 

To get a list of  drugs in the U.S with description of indications, dose and side effects, click here: