Many of the drugs that you need when you start dialysis are the same as the ones you needed before the start of treatment. Some drugs will need to be adjusted and medical supervision will be required. Below you will find the most common specific medications used for dialysis patients.


Kidneys are the main source of the production of erythropoietin (EPO), a blood-stimulating hormone. In renal failure there is a shortage of this hormone, which results in low red blood cell production which leads to anaemia. Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) stimulate red blood cell production and are administered as injections.


Iron is needed for haemoglobin and red blood cell production. Iron supplementation is sometimes needed and is often given intravenously.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is partly transformed (activated) by the kidneys and its production decreases in renal failure. It helps the absorption of calcium in the gut and helps to keep the bones strong. The shortage of active vitamin D might lead to bone disease marked by pain and bone weakness. Active vitamin D can be given both orally and intravenously.


Phosphate binders

Phosphate comes from protein-rich food and is normally excreted by the kidneys. In renal failure, phosphate accumulates in the body as the kidneys do not have the capacity to excrete it. Excess phosphate can form bony deposits in the tissues and increase the calcification of blood vessels. Phosphate binders taken with every meal decrease absorption of phosphate in the gut and reduce the amount of phosphate in the blood.

Antihypertensive therapy

As the kidneys are involved in controlling blood pressure, blood-pressure-lowering medication is common among patients with renal impairment. High blood pressure is a cardiovascular risk factor that requires close control. When dialysis treatment is started the need for these drugs usually decreases, sometimes to a level where they might be taken away totally.

Blood thinners (Anticoagulants)

If you are on haemodialysis blood thinners will be given to avoid blood clotting in the lines and dialyser during the treatment. This is given at the start of and also during the treatment session.

Other medications

Can include medication for cardiovascular disease, for diabetes mellitus, for hyperlipidaemia, for depression, for sexual dysfunction, pain relief, etc.