By Troy Zimmerman, Vice President, Government Relations, NKF
Call your U.S. Representatives and ask them to vote yes on H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act. While no provisions specific to kidney disease are included in the 21st Century Cures legislation, this bill sets the stage for addressing barriers to develop treatments and potential cures for diseases where therapies are currently limited – such as they are for kidney disease. The bill also increases research funding for the National Institutes for Health (NIH), where important research for kidney disease is conducted and funded under the National Institutes for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
NKF supports the provisions of H.R. 6 for many reasons. It increases NIH funding, incorporates patient reported data and perspectives in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision making regarding new treatments, and creates a transparent and inclusive process for the development and use of biomarkers and surrogate endpoints. In addition, H.R. 6 encourages registry development to track the natural history of diseases and remove barriers to continuing medical education for practitioners. This multi-pronged approach creates an environment more readily able to advance research and turn it into new treatments and cures for patients with life-threatening conditions. This work is particularly important to the 26 million Americans with chronic kidney disease (CKD).
An estimated 73 million Americans – one in three – are at risk for kidney disease. This is a substantial public health problem, yet it gets far less attention and resources than it deserves. The leading causes of CKD are diabetes and hypertension. However, there are also genetic and rare causes of kidney disease such as glomerulonephritis, polycystic kidney disease, Alport Syndrome, and IgA nephropathy, among others. Kidney disease is a progressive disease and is often asymptomatic until the later stages. Those living with kidney disease are at greater risk of cardiovascular events and acute kidney injury. Each year, more than 100,000 new patients progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD). NKF is optimistic that this legislation will help spur advancements in research, treatments, and ultimately cures for kidney disease. Debate on the bill begins on Thursday with voting scheduled for Friday morning so we ask you to call your U.S. Representatives today and ask them to vote yes on H.R. 6.