New Government Report Highlights Disproportionately Low Research Investment in Kidney Disease, Which Now Impacts “17% of U.S. Adults”

January 24, 2017

Government Accounting Office (GAO) Report Demonstrates Funding Gaps Between Disease Prevalence vs. Investment in Research, Innovations, Cures

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The newly released GAO report, National Institutes of Health: Kidney Disease Research Funding and Priority Setting, outlines the level status of the nation’s kidney disease research funding landscape and priority setting.  The report underscores the prevalence of chronic kidney disease and end stage renal disease in the U.S., and the funding sources, research funding allocations and priorities compared with other diseases – an approach, the kidney community points out, that highlights the discrepancy in research funding versus disease prevalence.

Kidney Care Partners (KCP) – the nation’s leading coalition of patient advocates, kidney disease professionals, dialysis care providers, researchers and manufacturers – commended Members of Congress who requested the GAO report: Congressional Kidney Caucus co-chairs Rep. Tom Marino (PA-10), Rep. Barbara Comstock (VA-10), House Science Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (TX-21), Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), and Sen. Bill Nelson (FL), all of whom have maintained a strong commitment to patient access to kidney disease care and research.

Currently, approximately 30 million Americans are living with chronic kidney disease, or CKD, and more than 650,000 of those individuals have progressed to kidney failure (called end-stage renal disease or ESRD).  This chronic disease condition involves kidney patients suffering from multiple comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension, requiring on average more than eight medications and at least two hospitalizations each year.  Further, for most patients with ESRD, thrice-weekly dialysis is required.

While the federal Medicare programs invests billions in caring for those afflicted with kidney failure, only a fraction of the collective NIH budget – approximately $564 million out of NIH’s $30 billion budget, was invested in biomedical research on kidney disease.  Even though funding for kidney research increased 2.7 percent from 2014 to 2015, investment is still far less than other disease conditions with less incidence.

“Supporting research is one of the pillars of KCP’s 2017 priorities.  To that end, we support improving the understanding of CKD through expanded research and coordination. We encourage improved coordination among the various federal agencies conducting CKD research and a greater investment in kidney research,” said Dr. Frank Maddux, chairman of KCP. “The development of a strategic research plan to tackle CKD and end-stage renal disease is long overdue and much needed. We look forward to working with Members of Congress and the Trump Administration to continue to improve the lives of individuals with kidney disease and kidney failure.”