January 30, 2012
A new study shows that there may be hope in avoiding certain side effects caused by drugs traditionally taken after a kidney transplant. An article on MedPage Today discussed exactly how new transplant recipients who stopped taking immunosuppressant prednisone shortly after the surgery managed to avoid serious side effects the drug can have, while avoiding damage to new organs.
Prior to the last 12 years, a patient undergoing a kidney transplant was placed on high doses of the drug, and the effects were associated with increased instances of diabetes and death. In 1999, researchers began examining if lower doses over a shorter period of time would be as effective. What they found was both a decreased risk of side effects and death.
Researchers performed almost 1,250 kidney transplants over an eleven-year period with patients being taken off of prednisone after only five days. The results were astounding. The risk of patients developing cataracts was cut by nearly two-thirds, and the risk of diabetes was reduced four percent. Survival rates also jumped to as high as 71 percent.
The results have prompted researchers to call for a randomized trial between their methods of stopping use of the medication and methods of tapering patients to maintenance use of the drug.