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Milestone for kidney patients with new drug to be made available in Scotland

A new treatment being made available on the NHS could delay the need for dialysis in patients with chronic kidney disease (Lewis Whyld/PA)
A new treatment being made available on the NHS could delay the need for dialysis in patients with chronic kidney disease (Lewis Whyld/PA)

A new drug that is the first new treatment in almost 20 years for those with chronic kidney disease is to be made available on the NHS in Scotland, in what has been hailed as an “important milestone”.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium approved dapagliflozin, sold under the brand name Forxiga, for use by the NHS.

The move could delay the need for kidney dialysis amongst sufferers, and brings Scotland into line line with a similar decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), which recommended the drug for patients in England and Wales in February.

Drug manufacturer AstraZeneca said that more than 50,000 patients in Scotland with chronic kidney disease (CKD) could potentially benefit from its new treatment.

Chronic kidney disease is a long-term condition where  where the kidneys do not work as well as they should, and are unable to remove waste products from the body through filtering the blood.

As many as 175,000 people in Scotland suffer from it, meaning about 3.2% of the population are affected.

And while the condition can slowly worsen over time, most people have little or no symptoms until the disease has reached an advanced stage.

Roughly 20 people a day in the UK develop develop end stage kidney disease – leaving them requiring either dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Meanwhile, the condition causes an estimated 40,000 to 45,000 premature deaths every year, with people in black, Asian and minority ethnic communities five times more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than other parts of the population.

Professor Patrick Mark, professor of nephrology and honorary consultant nephrologist at the Glasgow Renal and Transplant Unit at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Glasgow, welcomed the treatment being made available.

He said: “This decision is a really important milestone for people living with CKD in Scotland.

“They will now have access to an additional and effective treatment option that has demonstrated its ability to slow kidney decline, reduce their risk for hospitalisation and delay the need for transplant or dialysis.”

Tom Keith-Roach, president of AstraZeneca UK, also said it was an “incredibly important decision” for those with chronic kidney disease in Scotland.

He stated: “Dapagliflozin is the first new treatment option for these patients in almost 20 years with the potential to transform CKD management, particularly in primary care to prevent progression and hospitalisation.”

He added that the treatment could “defer the need for life-changing treatments like dialysis and transplantation” and added: “We will work with NHS Scotland to pull this recommendation through into routine practice making this new treatment available to patients as soon as possible.”

Speaking about the decision, SMC chairman, Mark MacGregor, said: “Dapagliflozin can delay disease progression for patients with CKD and may reduce the risk of patients reaching end-stage kidney disease.”

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