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Calcitonin for Paget's Disease of Bone

Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
calcitonin Miacalcin

Calcitonin is available for injection either under the skin (subcutaneous, or subQ, injection) or into the muscle (intramuscular, or IM, injection). Miacalcin is available in a nasal spray, but it is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of Paget's disease.

How It Works

Calcitonin is a naturally occurring hormone. It helps regulate calcium levels in your body and is involved in the process of bone building. It slows the rate of bone thinning.

Why It Is Used

People use calcitonin to control symptoms of Paget's disease and to slow the process of bone tissue breaking down and rebuilding too quickly. Doctors also may prescribe it to help prevent complications in people who have Paget's disease but do not yet have symptoms.

How Well It Works

Calcitonin helps manage bone pain. The benefits may take a few weeks to notice, and they often go away within a few months after you stop taking the medicine.1

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Hives.

Common side effects of injected calcitonin include:

  • Nausea with or without vomiting.
  • Skin irritation at the injection site.
  • Skin redness (flushing).

Common side effects of nasal calcitonin include:

  • Runny nose.
  • Nasal discomfort, sores, or redness.
  • Nosebleeds.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

You must take the injection form of calcitonin daily or at least several times a week. You or a family member can usually learn how to give the shot properly. It is important not to give the shot in a certain place one day and then in the same place the next time. Changing the places where you give the shots prevents damage to muscle tissue.

It may take a few weeks before pain relief is noticed. Not all people who take calcitonin get relief from their pain.

Some people develop a resistance to calcitonin. The medicine then stops working, and the disease becomes active again.

The effects of calcitonin go away within a few months after you stop taking the medicine.

Miacalcin is available in a nasal spray. But this form has not been well tested for Paget's disease.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

Women who use this medicine during pregnancy have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with birth defects. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you and your doctor must weigh the risks of using this medicine against the risks of not treating your condition.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. Shoback D, et al. (2011). Metabolic bone disease. In DG Gardner, D Shoback, eds., Greenspan's Basic and Clinical Endocrinology, 9th ed., pp. 227–284. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jennifer Hone, MD - Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Last Revised May 14, 2012

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.

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