The Grapevine

This Powerful Drug Shows Promise To Save Millions From Kidney Disease, Heart Failure

A breakthrough treatment originally created to help lower glucose levels for people with diabetes has been found providing more benefits to the body. The drug, canagliflozin, has been used to protect people against kidney failure and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications including heart failure.

The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, show people who took the drug had more than 30 percent lower heart failure risk and nearly 20 percent lower chances of suffering major cardiovascular conditions.

Lead author Vlado Perkovic, a professor at the George Institute for Global Health, said many people across the world could use the new treatment due to the rapidly growing rates of diabetes. 

"Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure worldwide but for almost two decades there have been no new treatments to protect kidney function,” he said in a statement posted Monday on EurekAlert. “This definitive trial result is a major medical breakthrough as people with diabetes and kidney disease are at extremely high risk of kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and death. We now have a very effective way to reduce this risk using a once daily pill."

The researchers presented the results at the recent ISN World Congress of Nephrology in Melbourne, Australia. They said canagliflozin can be offered to the public immediately as the drug is already available in the market.

For their study, the team assessed the drug’s effects on more than 4,400 patients with diabetes and kidney disease from 34 countries. Half of the group received canagliflozin, while others took a placebo.

Results showed that during the study, number of people developing kidney failure or dying from either kidney failure or cardiovascular disease was reduced by 30 percent, the incidents of hospitalization for heart failure decreased to 39 percent and the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death was 20 percent lower. The drug also did not cause any major side effects. 

"With five million people worldwide predicted to have kidney failure by 2035 this is a major breakthrough," Meg Jardine, study co-author and associate professor at The George Institute, said.