Federal Funding for Kidney Illness Analysis: A Missed Alternative

Results from the Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study
March 18, 2021 0 Comments

Am J Public Well being. 2016 March; 106(3): 406–407.

Mallika L. Mendu, MD, MBA,corresponding authorKevin F. Erickson, MD, MS, Thomas H. Hostetter, MD, Wolfgang C. Winkelmayer, MD, ScD, Grant Olan, MA, Rachel N. Meyer, Raymond Hakim, MD, and John R. Sedor, MD

Kidney illness is an underrecognized however widespread public well being challenge that’s costly to deal with and disproportionately impacts susceptible populations. As physicians and public coverage professionals concerned within the remedy and analysis of kidney illness, we clarify right here why elevated analysis investments are a crucial step to cut back the general public well being burden of kidney illness.


Continual kidney illness is a rising public well being drawback in the USA.1 Ten p.c of US adults—greater than 20 million People—have persistent kidney illness.2 The prevalence of persistent kidney illness elevated by 30% within the decade between 1994 and 2004, largely due to an elevated prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, and weight problems.3 Continual kidney illness usually progresses over time, and may trigger heart problems, anemia, bone illness, fluid overload, and ultimately end-stage renal illness. Sufferers with end-stage renal illness want renal substitute remedy, both from dialysis or a kidney transplant, to dwell. The chance of demise for sufferers receiving dialysis is sort of eight instances increased than the non–end-stage renal illness inhabitants, resulting in a 20% annual chance of demise.1 In 2008, the common three-year survival of sufferers receiving dialysis was a dismal 56%.1 Whereas sufferers who obtain kidney transplants survive longer, a scarcity of organs prevents transplantation for a lot of sufferers.

Kidney illness is ceaselessly related to issues that impair high quality of life. Sufferers with end-stage renal illness not often regain full well being, and are sometimes unable to return to work. The proportion of People with end-stage renal illness categorised as disabled was 92% in 2011.4 Kidney illness disproportionately impacts minorities and susceptible populations. As an illustration, persistent kidney illness is extra widespread amongst African People in contrast with different races, and is extra widespread in older People.2 Amongst sufferers with persistent kidney illness, African People, Mexican People, sufferers with decrease socioeconomic standing, and different deprived and susceptible sufferers usually tend to progress to end-stage renal illness.1 As a result of kidney illness can scale back an individual’s productiveness, these disparities amplify ongoing racial and socioeconomic inequalities.


Kidney illness remedy is dear and uniquely tied to federal expenditures by the Medicare entitlement program. Due to a legislation handed in 1972, practically all sufferers with end-stage renal illness are eligible for and obtain Medicare protection.5 As of 2013, roughly 616 000 sufferers are receiving dialysis or have had a kidney transplant, costing the federal authorities practically $35 billion yearly.1 Sufferers with end-stage renal illness require renal substitute remedy, costly drugs, and are hospitalized ceaselessly, resulting in excessive remedy prices. Regardless of development within the end-stage renal illness inhabitants over the previous 30 years, sufferers with end-stage renal illness nonetheless symbolize just one p.c of the Medicare inhabitants. But, prices related to the situation accounted for greater than six p.c of Medicare’s funds in 2013. The mixed annual value to Medicare for treating all well being circumstances confronted by sufferers with persistent kidney illness and end-stage renal illness has reached $80 billion, practically 25% of Medicare’s funds.1


The federal authorities performs an important position in financing well being care–associated analysis. Federal funding in analysis for quite a lot of particular circumstances—together with cerebrovascular illness, most cancers, and HIV/AIDS—has fostered vital scientific advances, resulting in therapies that enhance affected person outcomes. Stroke mortality improved with Nationwide Institutes of Well being (NIH)-funded improvements equivalent to platelet coagulation inhibitors and tissue plasminogen activators. Most cancers-related morality has improved with the invention of adjuvant therapies, cell signaling targets, and human papillomavirus vaccination. Substantial declines in coronary heart illness occurred following improvements in angioplasty. Elevated federal analysis funding in kidney illness may generate related developments. Specifically, the invention of recent mechanisms of illness and new markers of illness development may turn out to be a catalyst for much-needed non-public analysis funding into new therapies to deal with persistent kidney illness.

When contemplating each the excessive value of kidney illness remedy to the federal authorities and the immense toll it takes on inhabitants well being, NIH funding for kidney illness analysis is insufficient. The NIH is the first supply of presidency supported analysis. Solely two p.c of NIH analysis funding in 2014 was allotted towards kidney illness—which totals lower than one p.c of federal expenditures to deal with kidney illness. Furthermore, NIH spends far much less on kidney analysis per affected person (roughly $29/affected person/12 months) than on coronary heart illness ($61/affected person/12 months), most cancers ($568/affected person/12 months), and HIV/AIDS ($3064/affected person/12 months; ).6 The deficiency in federal kidney illness analysis funding is in keeping with proof that NIH’s allocation of analysis funds usually doesn’t mirror illness burden. A comparability of disease-specific funding in 1996 discovered no relation between the quantity of analysis funding and the incidence, prevalence, and variety of hospital days attributed to a situation.7


US Nationwide Institutes of Well being (NIH) Analysis Funding by Illness

Illness Prevalence, Thousands and thousands 2014 Finances,a $ Million % of 2014 NIH Finances NIH Spending per Affected person, $
HIV/AIDS 1.2b 3677 12 3064
Most cancers 14.0c 7957 27 568
Coronary heart illness 27.0d 1645 5 61
Kidney illness 20.0e 585 2 29


Though there was much less funding in kidney analysis and fewer trials for kidney illness therapies in contrast with many different widespread well being circumstances, numerous promising discoveries have emerged that, with the assistance of extra analysis funding, may result in remedy advances. The invention of apolipoprotein L1 gene variants as main causes of kidney illness in African People represents a possible goal for novel therapies. Latest research have elucidated mechanisms associated to kidney embryogenesis, and the position of kidney fibrosis in kidney operate decline. Analysis into the position of race, ethnicity, weight problems, and hypertension in kidney illness development may result in higher screening and novel therapies. Higher biomarkers to be used as surrogate endpoints for medical trials may facilitate analysis efforts.

An initiative of the Nationwide Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Illnesses, referred to as the Kidney Analysis Nationwide Dialogue, solicited enter from the scientific group on analysis targets to enhance understanding of kidney operate and illness. The ensuing work product, launched in 2014, advisable six cross-cutting themes:

  1. enhance coaching and group science alternatives to develop the nephrology workforce,

  2. develop novel applied sciences to evaluate kidney operate,

  3. promote human discovery analysis to higher perceive regular and diseased kidney operate,

  4. set up integrative fashions of kidney operate to tell diagnostic and remedy methods,

  5. promote interventional research that incorporate extra responsive outcomes and improved trial designs, and

  6. foster translation from medical investigation to group implementation.

Collectively, these concepts generate a roadmap targeted on investigation to enhance prevention, analysis, and remedy of kidney illness. They’ll information improvement of future analysis initiatives.


The authors thank the next members of the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Public Coverage Board for his or her contributions to this text: Ebony Boulware, MD, Crystal A. Gadegbeku, MD, Sharon M. Moe, MD, Uptal D. Patel, MD, Manikkam Suthanthiran, MD, Suzanne Watnick, MD, Daniel E. Weiner, MD, and Amy W. Williams, MD. The authors additionally thank the next members of the ASN Analysis Advocacy Committee for his or her contributions: Frank C. Brosius III, MD, Josef Coresh, MD, PhD, Harold I. Feldman, MD, FASN, Linda F. Fried, MD, T. Alp Ikizler, MD, Jordan A. Kreidberg, MD, PhD, Mary B. Leonard, MD, and Kumar Sharma, MD.


1. United States Renal Information System. Annual Information Report: Atlas of Continual Kidney Illness and Finish-Stage Renal Illness in the USA. Bethesda, MD: Nationwide Institutes of Well being, Nationwide Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Illnesses; 2013. [Google Scholar]
3. Coresh J, Selvin E, Stevens LA et al. Prevalence of persistent kidney illness in the USA. JAMA. 2007;298(17):2038–2047. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
7. Gross CP, Anderson GF, Powe NR. The relation between funding by the Nationwide Institutes of Well being and the burden of illness. N Engl J Med. 1999;340(24):1881–1887. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

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