Popular blood sugar drug slashes kidney failure risk in diabetics

A drug called canagliflozin was found to drastically lower the risk of kidney failure in individuals who have type 2 diabetes and kidney disease, researchers have announced. The results come from a clinical trial that involved 4,401 people across 34 countries, highlighting a more effective way to protect patients against this severe diabetes complication. In addition to protecting kidneys, the drug was also found to reduce the risk of suffering severe cardiovascular issues.

Diabetes paves the way for severe, potentially life-threatening health problems, including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and death. The medication canagliflozin has already been used to help protect patients who have both type 2 diabetes and heart disease from suffering serious cardiac events; as well, it is prescribed to reduce blood glucose levels in diabetics.

Both of those uses — lowering blood glucose and reducing cardiovascular risk — have been approved by the FDA. The results from a clinical trial involving the drug and its protective effect against kidney disease underscores another potential benefit offered by canagliflozin.

The drug's effectiveness for protecting against kidney failure in diabetics was compared to the currently accepted therapy, which is called renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) blockade. Patients given canagliflozin were found to be 30-percent less likely to develop kidney failure or die from renal failure or cardiovascular disease.

When looking specifically at kidney complications, trial participants who received the drug were 34-percent less likely to experience kidney failure or die from it. As well, the risk of being hospitalized for heart failure — or dying from cardiac issues — dropped by 31-percent. The results come at a critical time — cases of type 2 diabetes are expected to hit 510 million by 2030, a 20-percent increase from current levels.