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CKD Screening in all U.S. adults found cost effective



Screening for and treating chronic kidney disease (CKD) in all U.S. adults 35-75 years old is cost effective using a strategy that starts by measuring their urine albumin-creatinine ratio (UACR) followed by confirmatory tests and treatment of confirmed cases with current standard-care medications, according to an analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

This new evidence may prove important as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has begun revisiting its 2012 conclusion that “evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of routine screening for chronic kidney disease in asymptomatic adults.”

Ms. Marika M. Cusick, Stanford (Calif.) University

Ms. Marika M. Cusick

A big difference between 2012 and today has been that sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors arrived on the scene as an important complement to well-established treatment with an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker. SGLT2 inhibitors have been documented as safe and effective for slowing CKD progression regardless of a person’s diabetes status, and have “dramatically altered” first-line treatment of adults with CKD, wrote the authors of the new study.

‘Large population health gains’ from CKD screening

“Given the high prevalence of CKD, even among those without risk factors, low-cost screening combined with effective treatment using SGLT2 inhibitors represent value,” explained Marika M. Cusick, lead author of the report, a PhD student, and a health policy researcher at Stanford (Calif.) University. “Our results show large population health gains can be achieved through CKD screening,” she said in an interview.

“This is a well-designed cost-effectiveness analysis that, importantly, considers newer treatments shown to be effective for slowing progression of CKD. The overall findings are convincing,” commented Deidra C. Crews, MD, a nephrologist and professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore who was not involved in the research.

Dr. Crews, who is also president-elect of the American Society of Nephrology noted that the findings “may be a conservative estimate of the cost-effectiveness of CKD screening in certain subgroups, particularly when considering profound racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in survival and CKD progression.”

The USPSTF starts a relook

The new evidence of cost-effectiveness of routine CKD screening follows the USPSTF’s release in January 2023 of a draft research plan to reassess the potential role for CKD screening of asymptomatic adults in the United States, the first step on a potential path to a revised set of recommendations. Public comment on the draft plan closed in February, and based on the standard USPSTF development steps and time frames, a final recommendation statement could appear by early 2026.

Revisiting the prior USPSTF decision from 2012 received endorsement earlier in 2023 from the ASN. The organization issued a statement last January that cited “more than a decade of advocacy in support of more kidney health screening by ASN and other stakeholders dedicated to intervening earlier to slow or stop the progression of kidney diseases.”

A more detailed letter of support for CKD screening sent to top USPSTF officials followed in February 2023 from ASN president Michelle A. Josephson, MD, who said in part that “ASN believes that kidney care is at an inflection point. There are now far more novel therapeutics to slow the progression of CKD, evidence to support the impact of nonpharmacologic interventions on CKD, and an increased commitment in public health to confront disparities and their causes.”


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