Early Success Spurs Expansion of NKF's KEEP Screening Program

New York, NY (May 25, 2001) - With an annual growth rate of nearly 10 percent, kidney failure is a major public health problem in the U.S. But early identification can help stop the rise in new cases. Recognizing that, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is reaching out to people with diabetes, high blood pressure and other key risk factors through the national roll-out of an early detection and intervention initiative known as the Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP).

A free health screening program, KEEP offers blood and urine testing, on-site consultation by a physician, referrals and additional follow up for those whose tests results are outside normal ranges. To date, nearly 2,500 people have participated in more than 60 KEEP screenings held in various cities around the country. Results of the highly-targeted pilot-test indicate that one or more conditions outside the normal range was present in 92 percent of screening participants, pointing out the potential for kidney problems in the near or distant future, if not addressed.

According to William Keane, MD, president of the National Kidney Foundation, "By targeting those with diabetes, high blood pressure and/or relatives with those conditions, KEEP is enabling us to identify people most likely to develop chronic kidney failure and to reach them while we may still be able to do something about their disease. What makes our program unique is that our participants spend time with a doctor at the screening and that we consider follow up a crucial element. We don't simply identify the disease and leave the patient to his own devices."

Gary M. Reedy, president, Ortho Biotech Products, L.P. said, "Our partnership with NKF on the KEEP program reflects our shared commitment to the prevention, early detection and treatment of kidney disease. This program provides a unique opportunity, at the grassroots level, to provide much needed medical and educational services to populations who may be unknowingly at risk. The positive results to date underscore the tremendous need for this important program. We look forward to continuing our partnership with NKF."

All participants whose test values are outside the normal range are contacted by NKF's licensed nurse practitioner and those without access to medical care are referred to appropriate health care providers. Physician information is being recorded to facilitate the development of a database of treating physicians who can be targeted with prevention and treatment recommendations, based on sound medical evidence.

Plans are now underway for another phase of KEEP which will be conducted as a three-to five-year cohort study involving 15 sites, under the direction of John M. Flack, MD, MPH, Professor and Associate Chairman for Academic Affairs and Chief Quality Officer at Wayne State University Department of Internal Medicine. The condition and treatment of participants will be followed over the long term with annual monitoring. Recommendations from NKF's Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative Clinical Practice Guidelines for Chronic Kidney Disease will be provided to physicians to assist in the management of these patients.

"Early identification of those who are at risk of kidney disease is critical in our efforts to prevent the onset of the disease or slow its progression," says Dr. Keane. "Yet lack of coverage prevents some people from getting tested for kidney function as part of general physical examinations. To ensure that everyone who should be screened actually does so, the NKF is currently talking to managed care companies about including KEEP screenings as part of the services offered to those who enroll."

Ortho Biotech Products, L.P. is the primary sponsor of the KEEP program, national rollout and cohort study. Additional sponsors include Bayer Diagnostics and Satellite Healthcare.

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.