potassium citrate (Urocit-K)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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GENERIC NAME: Potassium citrate

BRAND NAME: Urocit-K

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Potassium citrate is a urinary alkalinizing medication. It makes urine less acidic. Potassium citrate works by crystallizing stone-forming salts such as calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate, and uric acid within the urinary bladder by increasing the urinary pH and urine citrate levels. Urocit-k was approved in August 1985.

PRESCRIBED FOR: Potassium citrate is used for treating renal tubular acidosis with calcium stones, hypocitraturic calcium oxalate nephrolithiasis (kidney stones), and uric acid lithiasis with or without calcium stones.

SIDE EFFECTS: Side effects of potassium citrate are:

Potassium supplements can cause bleeding or perforation of the stomach or small intestine from ulcers, and narrowing (stricture) of the small intestine from healed ulcers.

DOSING: Dosing of potassium citrate is based on urinary citrate levels.

Mild to moderate hypocitraturia (Urinary citrate greater than 150 mg/day):

  • Take 10 mEq potassium citrate orally three times a day
  • Severe hypocitraturia (Urinary citrate less than 150 mg/day):
  • Take 30 mEq potassium citrate orally 2 times a day or 20 mEq 3 times a day; with meals or within 30 minutes after meals.
  • Maintenance:
  • To achieve urinary citrate 320 to 640 mg/day and urinary pH 6.0-7.0: Titrate dose to maximum of 100 mEq/day

PRESCRIPTION: Yes

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

PREPARATIONS: Potassium citrate is available in extended-release tablets. They are available in 5 mEq (540 mg), 10 mEq (1080 mg), and 15 mEq (1620 mg) strengths. The packets for oral solution were discontinued in the U.S.

STORAGE: Store potassium citrate tablets at room temperature in a tightly closed container.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Potassium citrate should be used with caution with potassium-sparring diuretics, which can increase potassium levels in body and potentially lead to cardiac arrest.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/14/2015

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