A drug used to treat diabetes has shown promise in preventing or slowing down kidney disease, which is a condition that kills millions of people every year.

The canagliflozin drug, known commercially as the pill Invokana by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, shows evidence to help people with the deadly condition.

"Canagliflozin is the first medical breakthrough in nearly 20 years proven to slow the progression of chronic kidney disease in patients with diabetes at high risk of developing kidney failure," lead author Vlado Perkovici said in a statement.

Diabetes Drug Shows Potential Against Kidney Problems

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers tested about 13,000 people with Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease. One group was given Invokana while another group was given placebo pills.

Independent monitors stopped as soon as it became apparent that the drug was helping the patients after 4,400 of the participants have been treated for an average of 2.5 years.

The patients who were on Invokana are found to be 30 percent less likely to have the following problems: kidney failure, dialysis, kidney transplant, signs of kidney failure, or death from kidney- or heart-related causes. The research team estimates that there would be 47 fewer cases of these problems for every 1,000 people taking Invokana for 2.5 years.

"These impressive results from the CREDENCE study have significant clinical implications for preventing kidney failure and improving health for millions of people living with chronic kidney disease and type 2 diabetes," Perkovici continued.

In the study, serious side effects such as foot, leg, or toe amputations were similar in both the drug and placebo groups. It has been previously mentioned as a concern in Invokana. A side effect more frequent on Invokana, but still overall rare is the body not producing enough insulin.

The study is funded by the pharmaceutical company Janssen who manufactures the Invokana.

Kidney Disease In The US

Chronic kidney disease affects about 30 million adults in the United States and most of them remain undiagnosed, according to the CDC. It is the ninth leading cause of death in the country where diabetes and high blood pressure remain the leading cause of kidney failure. Every day, 340 people begin dialysis for kidney failure.

As AP News reports, doctors hail the study on Invokana as an important one that helps the growing kidney disease problem that's becoming worse due to the ongoing obesity epidemic.

If Invokana is proven to help improve kidney disease, it will go a long way toward preventing millions of deaths and improving the quality of life of those who are on dialysis.

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