It has been shown that a drug used to control blood sugar in diabetics can prevent or slow kidney disease, causing millions of deaths each year and hundreds of thousands of people needing dialysis to stay alive.
The doctors say it's hard to overestimate the importance of this study and to say what it means to tackle this problem, which is increasing as a result of the obesity epidemic.
The study tested the drug from Janssen Pharmaceuticals Invokana. The findings were discussed Sunday at a medical meeting in Australia and published by the New England Journal of Medicine.
About 30 million Americans and more than 420 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, and most of them are Type 2, a type of obesity. It occurs when the body can not produce or use enough insulin to convert food into energy.
This can damage the kidneys over time, leading to disease and ultimately failure. In the US, it accounts for nearly half a million people in need of dialysis and thousands of kidney transplants each year.
Some blood pressure medicines lower this risk but are only partially effective. The new study tested Invokana, a daily pill that is now being sold to control blood sugar, to see if it can prevent kidney disease when it is added to standard care.
For the study, about 13,000 people with type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease from around the world should receive Invokana or dummy pills. Independent observers discontinued the study prematurely after an average of 4,400 people had been treated for about 2.5 years on average, when it was clear the drug was helpful.
Those taking the drug had a 30% lower risk of having one of these problems – kidney failure, need for dialysis, need for a kidney transplant, death from kidney or heart problems, or other signs of kidney failure.
For 1000 people taking the drug for 2.5 years, the researchers say this would be reduced by 47%.
The rates of serious adverse events were similar in the drug and placebo groups, including leg, foot or toe amputations, a problem expressed in a previous Invokana study. An adverse event when the body can not produce enough insulin was more common in Invokana, but rare overall.
Janssen, part of Johnson & Johnson, sponsored the study and many authors work or advise on the company. The drug costs in the US are about $ 500 per month. Out-of-pocket costs for patients may vary depending on the insurance.
The importance of this large and well-made study "can not be overstated," said Drs. Julie Ingelfinger and Clifford Rosen, editors of the medical journal, wrote in an accompanying article.
In recent years, several studies have shown that Invokana and some similar medicines can reduce heart risk. The new results, which show that Invokana can also prevent or prevent kidney failure, increase the potential benefit of the drug.
Marilynn Marchione can be followed at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP
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