A £1-a-day pill that cuts the risk of death by almost a third for people with chronic kidney disease will benefit more than 200,000 NHS patients.
The daily tablet, which is already used to treat Type 2 diabetes, slows down the progression of chronic kidney disease and will be available on the NHS from the start of next year.
There is no cure for the condition but empagliflozin, sold under the brand name Jardiance, has been proven to reduce the need for kidney dialysis or transplants by almost a third in trials by Oxford scientists.
The results of the Empa-Kidney trial, which involved 6,600 people from eight countries, led to regulators fast-tracking approval for the treatment.
It found empagliflozin, made by pharmaceutical firms Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim, reduced the risk of chronic kidney disease getting worse or a resulting death from heart disease by 28 per cent.
Kidney disease can lead to heart attacks or strokes because as kidneys deteriorate, they place increased stress on the heart.
About 45,000 people die prematurely every year as a result.
The disease is progressive and has five stages. The fifth stage is the most serious and known as kidney failure, end-stage renal disease or established renal failure, where dialysis or a transplant may be needed.
Many unaware they have condition
Experts say as many as one in 10 Britons, or 7.2 million people, have the condition but the majority are unaware. Less than two million have a diagnosis.
The disease is largely asymptomatic in its early stages, making it hard to detect, as the body can cope with limited function.
However, as it progresses it can cause insomnia, blood in the urine, shortness of breath, fatigue and weight loss, among other symptoms.
The kidneys filter waste products from the blood out of the body through urine, but if they are not working effectively this waste can build up in the body causing other health issues.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said 226,000 patients would be eligible for the new treatment because of their kidney’s limited function and either the amount of the protein albumin that’s in their urine or because they have Type 2 diabetes.
Similar to an existing treatment, called dapagliflozin, it works by blocking the SGLT2 protein that causes the reabsorption of sodium and glucose in the kidneys, meaning the products can be excreted through urine.
A 28-day supply of the drugs cost £36.50, or £1.30 per day, but the NHS has also agreed a confidential discount.
Sarah Carter is a health and wellness expert residing in the UK. With a background in healthcare, she offers evidence-based advice on fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being, promoting healthier living for readers.