By Tarek Rabah, Vice President, US Renal-Cardio
At AstraZeneca, we are committed to taking a patient-centric approach in everything we do. I strongly believe that to fulfill this commitment, we have to do more than research and develop new drug therapies that treat unmet medical needs. We must also understand the human experience of the patients we serve; their hopes and goals, fears and challenges, should not only inform, but drive, what we do every day.
From a clinical perspective, the experience of patients with renal-cardiovascular conditions, including chronic kidney disease (CKD), is highly complex. CKD, a condition in which kidney function is impaired, affects approximately 15% of adults in the U.S. It is associated with several complications, two of which are of primary focus for AstraZeneca: hyperkalemia and anemia.
Hyperkalemia, defined as high potassium levels in the blood, can cause an irregular heartbeat and can be fatal if left untreated; approximately 40-50% of patients with CKD have hyperkalemia. Anemia, or low red blood cell levels, is also very common in patients with CKD and generally increases in severity as CKD progresses. It is associated with an increased risk of hospitalization and cardiovascular complications.
This puts into stark relief the need for us to accelerate the development of innovative treatments for these conditions. However, the true impact of CKD becomes most real for me when I meet with patients and hear first-hand about how their condition affects their energy level, their ability to work, their relationships with friends and family - so many aspects of their lives are made more challenging by CKD.
But in these discussions with patients, I also witness their strength in managing their disease, learn about their hopes for the future, and hear about their desire to help others with CKD. Reflecting on these conversations inspires me to put patients first in everything I do.
Ultimately, we must do more for patients living with chronic kidney disease and identify solutions that can change the standard of care and disrupt the treatment paradigm. AstraZeneca is embarking on a new era of treating renal disease, committed to managing complications today, while researching ways to treat disease progression tomorrow for a greater future for these patients.
I look forward to sharing more about our exciting vision to transform renal-cardio care in the future.