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People with chronic kidney disease often take a variety of medications to help manage their disease.

This information explains how the medications you are taking work and the possible side effects and precautions.  It is not a substitute for talking to your doctor or pharmacist.

Non-Prescription Medicines

In addition to their prescribed medications, many people with kidney disease use non-prescription medications from time to time.

Before using any non-prescription medicine, however, it is important to know if that product might interact with your prescription medication, and what effect it might have on your medical condition.

Always read the label of non-prescription drugs and use only as directed. If you don’t understand the directions or are unsure about whether the medicine is right for you, ask a pharmacist and tell them that you have kidney disease.

The following information will help you to choose among some products used for treating common minor ailments. If you don’t find the information you need below, or if you have any questions, talk to your doctor and/or a pharmacist. 

Also see:

There are many herbal medications on the market. However, most have not undergone rigorous scientific testing to prove their claims. Many of these medications are safe to take in recommended doses. A few, however, can increase blood pressure, leading to possible complications for people with kidney disease. Never start an herbal medication before consulting your renal doctor or pharmacist. Herbals are poorly regulated in Canada and can actually contain enough impurities to cause harm.


There are few things you can do that are more effective at improving health than quitting smoking. However, quitting can be difficult and can be helped by using a strategy. Pick a start date and muster the support of people close to you. There are also medications to help you quit smoking. You will be more successful if this is only part of an overall plan. Common medications include nicotine in the form of a gum, a patch or an inhaler. To improve your chances for success, discuss your plan to quit with your doctor, pharmacist or social worker.

If you smoke and would like to quit, please refer to:

BC Smoking Cessation Program -

If you are going for a special x-ray such as a CT scan or angiogram, talk with your kidney doctor or nurse. They will suggest ways to help protect your kidneys. Some contrast dyes can damage the kidneys.


For people with diabetes, foot care is particularly important, including regular foot hygiene. Be especially careful with non-prescription products that treat warts, corns and calluses as they contain caustic substances which break down the integrity of the skin and increase the risk of infection. Don't use these products without advice from either a podiatrist or doctor. Any product that might damage the skin of your feet should be left to your doctor to prescribe and supervise.


 *The information in our patient handout materials are provided for educational/information purposes, and to support discussion with your health care team about your medical condition and treatment. It does not constitute medical advice and should not substitute for advice given by your physician or other qualified health care professional.

Conditions & Treatment
Here are information sheets on common drugs that may be used to treat conditions that patients with kidney disease may experience.

Iron Bivalent, Oral Preparations:

Vitamin B-12:





Topical Cream 

Note: All formulary medications are available to BCR-registered pediatric patients (pre-dialysis and dialysis patients under the age of 18). Any compounded formulations of formulary medication or commercially available liquid forms of medication will also be funded for pediatric patients.

Symbols used

Restrictions apply to some drugs. Here's what the symbols beside the drug mean.

^ Injectable medication

* Needs approval through PROMIS

** Restricted to patients with an intractable cough to ACE inhibitors (as per pharmacare)

*** Application for sevelamer required to be completed and send to BC Renal Agency (not for prior approval but for audit purposes)

**** Cinacalcet (Sensipar) is very restricted and approval will be granted on a case-by-case basis. Nephrologists may contact the BCPRA office.

***** Restricted for adult patients experiencing hemodialysis needling pain as per guideline. Not restricted for pediatric patients.

****** Restricted to PD bowel prep

# Approved as prophylaxis against fungal peritonitis in PD patients only at a dose of 200 mg orally every two days to a maximum duration of concomitant antibiotic treatment + one week. Practitioners should be alert for drug interactions with fluconazole.

What to do if you are sick

If you are sick

If you have a bad flu or other illness which causes you to vomit or have diarrhea AND you cannot eat or drink normally, you may become dehydrated (dry). Dehydration can affect your kidney function and blood pressure. 

If you are vomiting or have diarrhea or feel very sick, try to drink fluids. It is best to drink fluids that do not have caffeine. If you are so sick that you cannot drink your normal amount of fluids, there are some medications that your doctor might suggest you not take until you are able to start drinking fluids again. 

Ask your doctor for a plan about what to do about your medications if you get sick. 

Medication changes

Print off the patient teaching sheet Medication changes when you are sick and take to your next doctor's appointment.

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