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

Diabetics should be offered a daily pill that drastically reduces the risk of developing life-threatening kidney and heart complications.

High blood sugar levels in diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys. When this happens, toxins cannot be filtered out of the blood, which puts pressure on the heart.

Last week, NHS Scotland’s spending monitors approved a tablet, finerenone, for patients with type 2 diabetes living 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 a pill, is due next month, and charities say approval would benefit up to 1.5 million diabetic Britons, living with kidney disease. or are expected to develop it in the future.

A decision on NHS funding of finerenone, which costs £17 a pill, is due next month, and charities say approval would benefit up to 1.5 million diabetic Britons, living with kidney disease. or are expected to develop it in the future.

A decision on NHS funding of finerenone, which costs £17 a pill, is due next month, and charities say approval would benefit up to 1.5 million diabetic Britons, living with kidney disease. or are expected to develop it in the future.

“This drug has the exciting potential to substantially improve the care of patients with chronic kidney disease due to diabetes,” says Dr Graham Lipkin, Member of Kidney Care UK. “It should have considerable benefit for patients and help them avoid the need for more intensive hospital treatments.”

Around 4.4 million Britons have type 2 diabetes, a condition that occurs when blood sugar is too high, often due to genetics, obesity and lack of exercise.

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

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

In a worldwide trial 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, found that those who took finerenone were one-fifth less likely to die of kidney failure compared with patients with type 2 diabetes who did not take the drug.

In a worldwide trial 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, found that those who took finerenone were one-fifth less likely to die of kidney failure compared with patients with type 2 diabetes who did not take the drug.

In a worldwide trial 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, found that those who took finerenone were one-fifth less likely to die of kidney failure compared with patients with type 2 diabetes who did not take the drug.

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

Drugs capable of inhibiting aldosterone have been available on the NHS for two decades, but have been used sparingly as they can trigger irregular heartbeat, which in turn can lead to heart failure.

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

However, studies show that it is much safer than previous medications, which means that you are unlikely to have heart complications.

In a worldwide trial 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, found that those who took finerenone were one-fifth less likely to die of kidney failure compared with patients with type 2 diabetes who did not take the drug.

The trial also found that finerenone reduced the risk of death or hospitalization for heart failure by 14 percent after two and a half years. The researchers believe that the long-term benefit of finerenone could be even greater. They estimate that taking the pill every day reduces the risk of kidney failure by up to 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. Let’s hope this evidence 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 do not have diabetes, which means that many more Britons could one day benefit.”

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

Her advisor offered her the opportunity to participate in the finerenone trial. “If my kidneys got worse, I could end up on dialysis or need a transplant, and I didn’t want to do either,” Anthony says.

“This medication was an added level of safety against kidney disease, along with the important task of paying attention to my blood sugar levels to keep my diabetes under control.”

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

“I hope they return it to me when it’s approved,” he says.

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