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The National Kidney Foundation and Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) today announced a new initiative of the Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP) that will provide important data to help communities address the growing prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD). The initiative introduces a participant follow-up – or “longitudinal” – component to the National Kidney Foundation’s KEEP further strengthening the comprehensive, free kidney disease screening program. The new initiative is made possible by an educational grant from Amgen, KEEP’s primary sponsor.
Offered at community-based locations across the country, KEEP provides comprehensive health risk appraisals to assess individuals’ kidney function and key risk factors for the disease, including high blood pressure and diabetes. The appraisals are based on blood and urine testing as well as onsite physician consultations. The rapidly expanding program is expected to screen approximately 40,000 people in 2008 and recently screened its 100,000th participant since the program’s inception in 2000.
“Most of the 26 million people who are living with CKD in the United States are not even aware that they have it. In fact, our data shows that only two percent of KEEP participants who were diagnosed with CKD knew they were at risk for the disease,” said Joseph Vasalotti, MD, chief medical officer, National Kidney Foundation. “Early-stage CKD can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms are not usually apparent until the disease progresses to near kidney failure. Yet research shows that treating kidney disease earlier may help improve outcomes. For this reason, the continued expansion and enhancement of KEEP is critical to addressing the public health concerns posed by CKD.”
The new patient follow-up initiative was successfully piloted in Miami, Minneapolis and East Brookfield, Mass. in 2007. It has two primary objectives: first, to assess past KEEP participants and determine improvements in outcomes and, second, to arm community healthcare providers with outcomes data based on participating patients’ ongoing KEEP results from the follow up. KEEP participants, including those who participated prior to the introduction of the follow-up initiative, will be invited back annually for repeat screenings.
The patient follow-up initiative joins an extensive list of recent enhancements to the KEEP program. Among them are:
“Early detection and increased awareness of chronic kidney disease and its causes are essential to helping stem the growing prevalence of the disease that we’ve seen in recent years,” offered U.S. Representative Mark Kirk of Illinois, co-chair of the Congressional Kidney Caucus. “KEEP plays a key role in helping us reach that goal.”
CKD is a condition defined by kidney damage and impaired kidney function that progresses over time. Twenty six million Americans have some form of CKD with minority populations, particularly Hispanics and African Americans, at increased risk for the disease. The most common causes of CKD are high blood pressure, diabetes and a family history of kidney failure. Early-stage CKD often is not diagnosed because symptoms are not usually apparent until the later stages of the disease. When the kidneys fail, dialysis or a kidney transplant is required to sustain life. Dialysis is the artificial process of cleaning wastes from the blood when the kidneys can no longer function adequately.
"KEEP not only represents the seminal screening program for CKD, but it also helps the medical community, state and federal governments and advocacy groups unite to address the growing prevalence of CKD, particularly among minority communities where the need is greatest,” said Robert M. Brenner, M.D., executive director, Nephrology Global Development. “As a pioneer of innovative therapies for patients with complications of chronic kidney disease, Amgen is proud to be the primary sponsor of KEEP.”
About the National Kidney Foundation
The National Kidney Foundation is dedicated to preventing kidney and urinary tract diseases, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation. For more information on kidney disease visit www.kidney.org.
Amgen discovers, develops, manufactures and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science’s promise by bringing safe and effective medicines from lab, to manufacturing plant, to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious illnesses. With a deep and broad pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people’s lives. To learn more about our pioneering science and our vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com.
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