A drug that is used to help control blood sugar in people with diabetes has now been shown to help prevent or slow kidney disease, which causes millions of deaths each year and requires hundreds of thousands of people to use dialysis to stay alive. .
Doctors say it is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this study and what it means to stem this problem, which is growing due to the obesity epidemic.
The study tested the Invokana drug from Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The results were discussed on Sunday at a medical meeting in Australia and published by the New England Journal of Medicine.
About 30 million Americans and over 420 million people worldwide have diabetes, and most cases are type 2, the type linked to obesity. It occurs when the body cannot produce enough or properly use insulin, which turns food into energy.
This can damage the kidneys over time, causing illness and ultimately failure. In the United States, it is responsible for nearly half a million people in need of dialysis and thousands of kidney transplants every year.
Some blood pressure medications reduce this risk, but are only partially effective. The new study tested Invokana, a daily pill sold now to help control blood sugar levels, to see if it could also help prevent kidney disease when added to standard treatments.
For the study, about 13,000 people with type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease from all over the world had to receive Invokana or dummy pills. The independent monitors stopped the study early, after 4,400 people had been treated for an average of 2.5 years, when it was clear that the drug was helping.
Those of the drug had a 30% lower risk of one of these problems: renal failure, need for dialysis, need for a kidney transplant, death from kidney or heart causes or other signs of kidney failure.
For every 1,000 people taking the drug for 2.5 years, there would be 47 fewer cases than one of these problems, the researchers estimate.
The percentages of serious side effects were similar in the groups treated with drugs and placebo including amputations in the legs, feet or feet, a concern raised by a previous study on Invokana. A side effect, when the body cannot produce enough insulin, was more frequent among those on Invokana but generally rare.
Janssen, who is part of Johnson & Johnson, sponsored the firm and many authors work or consult for the company. The drug costs about $ 500 a month in the United States. The extra costs for patients may be different, depending on the insurance.
The importance of this broad and well-done study "cannot be overstated", dr. Julie Ingelfinger and Clifford Rosen, editors of the medical journal, wrote in an accompanying article.
In recent years, several studies have found that Invokana and some similar drugs can reduce cardiac risks. The new results, which show that Invokana could also stop or prevent kidney failure, expand the potential benefits of the drug.
Marilynn Marchione can be followed to http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP
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