New Study Shows Large Cost Savings Could Result From Measures to Slow Chronic Kidney Disease

New York, NY
May 9 , 2002

A new study projects huge cost savings from slowing the progression of chronic kidney disease in the U.S. When chronic kidney disease progresses, it often leads to kidney failure or end stage renal disease (ESRD), which requires treatment with dialysis or kidney transplant to sustain life. According to current predictions, the annual cost of treating kidney failure in the U.S. - $16.74 billion is expected to increase to $38.35 billion by 2010 as the prevalence of kidney failure rises from 326,217 to 661,330 over the same time span.

The study, published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, uses mathematical models to calculate the economic impact of slowing the progression of chronic kidney disease by 10 percent, 20 percent and 30 percent. Progression of chronic kidney disease was defined as decline in patients' glomerular filtration rate, or GFR, which is a measure of how well the kidneys are working to remove wastes from the body. In patients with a GFR of 60 mL/min or less - considered a moderate decline in GFR - the study indicates that reducing the rate of decline of GFR by 10, 20 and 30 percent would result in estimated total savings of $18.56, $39.02 and $60.61 billion respectively over a ten year period. In patients with GFR of 30 mL/min or less - a more severe stage of chronic kidney disease - the cost savings were estimated at approximately $9.06, $19.98 and $33.37 billion respectively.

The treatments employed to help slow the progression of chronic kidney disease may involve measures such as following a restricted diet, taking extra medications and making additional visits to the doctor's office each year. Nearly 80 percent of the patients surveyed in the study indicated that even delaying the need to start dialysis by a few weeks would be worth this effort.

"We already have strategies to slow the progression of chronic kidney disease," says William Keane, MD, National Kidney Foundation president. The Clinical Practice Guidelines for Chronic Kidney Disease, recently developed by the National Kidney Foundation's Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (NKF-K/DOQI) provide recommendations for the early detection and treatment of chronic kidney disease with the ultimate goal of preventing or slowing the progression of the disease.

"An implementation plan is being developed to spread the word about these guidelines to the healthcare professionals who treat people with chronic kidney disease," Dr. Keane added.

"Raising awareness of chronic kidney disease among people at risk and among their health care providers are difficult but important steps in applying these cost and life saving therapies. Most people at risk don't know it and their providers don't test until the disease is far advanced," said Tom Hostetter, MD, director of the National Kidney Disease Education Program.

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. The National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health sponsors the National Kidney Disease Education Program. The program seeks to raise awareness, increase testing and broaden treatment of chronic kidney disease to prevent or slow the progression to kidney failure.