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Thursday, 20 September, 2001, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Drug delays diabetic kidney failure
Dialysis is used to treat patients with kidney failure
Dialysis is used to treat patients with kidney failure
One of the most serious complications of diabetes could be delayed for up to two years, say experts.

The finding is published in the New England Journal of Medicine after three studies carried out by pharmaceutical companies into preventing kidney failure.

However, although the drug appears to improve patients' quality of life, none of the treatments could prevent kidney damage altogether, or keep patients alive for longer.

Over 80% of diabetics in the UK have Type II disease, otherwise known as adult onset diabetes.


On average, a reprieve from end-stage renal disease of about two years seems to have been gained

Dr Thomas Hostetter, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Up to 30% will develop kidney disease, particularly those who suffer from high blood pressure.

Kidney disease from diabetes is the most common cause of chronic renal failure leading to dialysis or transplantation.

In an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr Thomas Hostetter, of the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases said: "On average, a reprieve from end-stage renal disease of about two years seems to have been gained."

Trials

In one study, 1,513 patients in 29 countries including the UK, who had Type II diabetes and early indicators of kidney disease, and who were also on high blood pressure treatment were followed for over three years.

They were given the drug lorsarten or a placebo.

The research was sponsored by Merck Sharp and Dohme, who make the drugs under the brand names Cozaar, already approved to treat hypertension, and Hyzaar.

The study showed the risk of renal failure rates was cut by 28% if people were on the drug, but it had no effect on death rates.

In a second study 1,715 patients were treated with irbesartan, sold as Avapro, or a placebo.

The researchers, led by Dr Edmund Lewis of the Rush-Presbyterian - ST Luke's Medical Centre in Chicago, found the risk of further kidney damage, kidney failure or death dropped by 20% in those taking the drug.

French drug company Sanofi-Synthelabo and American company Bristol-Myers Squibb funded the research.

'Excellent news'

They also funded a study of 590 people with Type II diabetes, high blood pressure and early signs of kidney failure, where patients again took irbesartan or a placebo.

Fifteen per cent of those who had taken the placebo showed signs of kidney damage over the two year study, compared to 5% who took 300 milligrams of irbesartan each day, and 10% who took 150 milligrams.

Suzanne Lucas, director of care at Diabetes UK, said: "This is excellent news for a group of patients whose diabetes puts them at risk of serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputation and blindness."

A spokesperson for the National Kidney Research Fund said the studies were "tremendously important in providing hope that the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant can be delayed or prevented in patients with diabetes."

See also:

11 Sep 01 | Health
Drug to prevent diabetes
27 Jun 01 | Health
Hopes for diabetes cure
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