Although up to 20% of kidney disease patients may be prescribed a medication known as Allopurinol, unfortunately the results of a major clinical trial led by University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the George Institute for Global Health in collaboration with the Australasian Kidney Trials Network evidence that the drug doesn’t stop the deterioration of kidney disease.
The recent results of this important Australian led study were published June 25, 2020 in the renowned New England Journal of Medicine.
Kidney Disease in Australia
In Australia, about 1.7 million people 18 and up are diagnosed with a chronic kidney disease. Not all the risk is equal as some patients are afflicted with a more severe, progressive form of chronic kidney disease. A certain subsection of this patient group may require dialysis or kidney transplantation. About 3,000 Australians on an annual basis will require dialysis and presently over 13,000 Australians receive dialysis.
Allopurinol is sold under the trade name Zyloprim (Prometheus Labs) among other names, and is used to decrease high blood uric levels. Used specifically to prevent gout, kidney stones and for high uric acid levels that can occur with chemotherapy, it can be taken orally or injected. The drug is one the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines and was approved in the United States in 1966.
The sponsors behind this investigator-initiated clinical trial identified allopurinol as its often now prescribed as a medication to actually lower a patient’s blood levels of urate, the waste product produced by an individual’s metabolism
The CKD-FIX Study tapped into the Australasian Kidney Trials Network for the two year, 31 hospital clinical trial involving 369 patients with chronic kidney disease at risk of further degradation. The investigators analyzed the comparison of allopurinol (uric acid) to a placebo and uncovered there was absolutely no difference in regards to the rate of kidney function degradation.
Co-study lead Sunil Badve, Conjoint Associate Professor at UNSW Medicine and Senior Research Fellow at The George Institute for Global Health, reported, “We found the kidney function declined at a similar rare in patients receiving allopurinol and those receiving placebo.”
With such a significant percentage of kidney patients on this drug, the findings are substantial and carry with them implications for health professionals to consider. As about 20% of kidney disease patients get prescribed this medication (or one like it) to lower elevated urate levels, it now appears there is absolutely no benefit unless they struggle with conditions such as gout, which allopurinol does impact.
The Investigator Network
Affiliated with the University of Queensland, Australia, the Australasian Kidney Trials Network operates under the Centre for Health Services Research at the University of Queensland’s Faculty of Medicine and is located at the Princess Alexandra Hospital campus in Woolloongabba.
This study was sponsored by UNSW and the George Institute for Global health.
UNSW is an Australian research university located in the Sydney suburb of Kensington. The George Institute is a leading independent global medical research institute established and headquarter in Sydney, with additional centers in China, India and the UK as well as an international network of experts and collaborators.
Sunil V. Badve, Senior Research Fellow
For other authors, follow the link below.
Call to Action: If your doctor has prescribed allopurinol specifically for Chronic Kidney Disease, consider sharing these results.