Health

New drug hope for 1.5 million diabetic Britons at risk of kidney disease

Diabetics are offered a daily pill that lowers their risk of developing life-threatening kidney and heart complications.

The high sugar levels in diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys. When this happens, toxins can’t be filtered out of the blood, putting pressure on the heart.

Last week, NHS Scotland’s watchdogs approved a tablet, finerenone, for type 2 diabetic patients with kidney disease. And experts say health chiefs will offer the drug to type 2 diabetics in England and Wales.

A decision on NHS funding of finerenone, which costs £17 per pill, is expected next month and charities say approval would benefit up to 1.5 million Britons with diabetes, who are either living with kidney disease or are expected to will get in the future.

A decision on NHS funding of finerenone, which costs £17 per pill, is expected next month and charities say approval would benefit up to 1.5 million Britons with diabetes, who are either living with kidney disease or are expected to will get in the future

‘This drug has the exciting potential to significantly improve the care of patients with chronic kidney disease due to diabetes,’ says Dr Graham Lipkin, a trustee of Kidney Care UK. “It should have a significant benefit to patients and help them avoid the need for more intensive hospital treatment.”

About 4.4 million Britons have type 2 diabetes, a condition that occurs when blood sugar levels are too high – often due to heredity, obesity and lack of exercise.

This imbalance can cause a number of complications, including damage to the blood vessels in the kidneys. This damages the kidneys, but can also cause them to produce the hormone aldosterone. Studies show that too much of this hormone can scar the kidneys, causing irreversible damage, and increase the risk of heart disease.

About 40 percent of type 2 diabetics will develop kidney disease at some point.

In A Global Study Of More Than 5,500 Adults With Kidney Disease Associated With Type 2 Diabetes, Participants Took The Drug Every Day. The Results, Published Last Year In The New England Journal Of Medicine, Showed That Those Who Took Finerenone Were About A Fifth Less Likely To Die From Kidney Failure Compared To Type 2 Diabetes Patients Who Didn'T Take The Drug.

In a global study of more than 5,500 adults with kidney disease associated with type 2 diabetes, participants took the drug every day. The results, published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that those who took finerenone were about a fifth less likely to die from kidney failure compared to type 2 diabetes patients who didn’t take the drug.

‘These conditions go hand in hand,’ says kidney specialist Dr Kieran McCafferty, nephrologist consultant at Barts Health NHS Trust in London. “I spend most of my time preventing heart disease. If you have diabetic kidney disease, you are more likely to die from heart disease than from kidney failure. So it’s very important that we have effective treatments for these patients that can treat both.’

Drugs that can inhibit aldosterone have been available on the NHS for two decades but are given sparingly because they can cause an irregular heartbeat, which in turn can lead to heart failure.

Finerenone, also known as Kerendia, also limits the amount of aldosterone the body produces.

However, studies show that it is much safer than previous medications, meaning that heart complications are unlikely to occur.

In a global study of more than 5,500 adults with kidney disease associated with type 2 diabetes, participants took the drug every day. The results, published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that those who took finerenone were about a fifth less likely to die from kidney failure compared to type 2 diabetes patients who didn’t take the drug.

The study also found that finerenone reduced the risk of death or hospitalization with heart failure by 14 percent after two and a half years. Researchers believe that the long-term benefit of finerenone could be even greater. They estimate that taking the pill daily reduces the risk of kidney failure by as much as 40 percent, which will reduce hospitalizations and deaths.

“This is a really exciting drug,” says Dr. McCafferty. “It’s safe and keeps patients out of the hospital. Hopefully this proof is enough for NICE [the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence] to finance the drug.”

He adds: ‘The next step will be to offer the treatment to patients with kidney disease who don’t have diabetes – which means many more Britons could benefit from it one day.’

One patient who benefits from finerenone is Anthony Price, 67, from Birmingham. The retired entrepreneur has lived with type 2 diabetes for more than 30 years and was diagnosed with early-stage kidney disease just over a decade ago.

His advisor offered him the chance to participate in the finerenone trial. “If my kidneys deteriorated, I could go on dialysis or need a transplant, and I didn’t want that at all,” says Anthony.

“This drug was an extra level of protection against kidney disease, beyond the important job of watching my blood sugars to control my diabetes.”

For three years, Anthony took the pill every morning with breakfast. He says he has not experienced any side effects. In addition, he has not suffered any kidney or heart disease.

“I hope to be put back on it when it’s approved,” he says.

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Merry

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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