Drug store operator CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) said today it plans to expand into the dialysis market, launching a program focused on early identification of kidney disease and unveiling plans to develop a new home hemodialysis system.
CVS said it will approach its entry into the dialysis market in stages, focusing on early disease identification and education, followed by the development of a home dialysis program for both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
As part of its program, the company said it will launch a pivotal trial of a new home hemodialysis system in support of planned FDA submission, though it has not yet revealed specific details of the device. CVS did say that the secretive system is intended to “make home hemodialysis simple and safe for patients” to allow for longer, more frequent treatments.
“In dialysis today, there is an enormous unmet medical need with high levels of mortality, frequent hospitalizations and poor quality of life for affected patients. As we explored this area it became clear that our enterprise assets from our experience with complex patient home care through Coram, the breadth of our chronic disease management capabilities with CVS Specialty and Accordant, and our deep payor relationships at CVS Caremark will enable us to create a unique value proposition to help reshape dialysis treatment,” CVS Specialty head Dr. Alan Lotvin said in a prepared statement.
“Diagnosing kidney disease early is the only way to prevent kidney failure and cardiovascular complications. There is an urgent need to increase patient awareness of not only the disease itself but also of the treatment options available for both early and chronic kidney failure or end-stage renal disease. Many patients believe in-center dialysis is their only kidney failure treatment choice, and do not know about patient-centered options, including home dialysis or kidney transplant,” National Kidney Foundation chief medical officer Dr. Joseph Vassalotti said in prepared remarks.
The pharmacy company isn’t taking its entry into the dialysis market lightly, having picked up former Baxter (NYSE:BAX) renal division VP Dr. Bruce Culleton as its chief medical officer of specialty advanced therapeutics.
During his eight-year tenure at Baxter, Dr. Culleton was in charge of new product development for its renal division, and provided “leadership to the renal business to support long term growth,” according to his LinkedIn profile.
“While in-center dialysis clinics are currently the most common choice for hemodialysis treatment, published clinical research has shown improved cardiac health, metabolic control, and survival for patients who are treated with longer, more frequent dialysis treatments. This treatment paradigm is best delivered in the convenience of a patient’s home. CVS Health is uniquely positioned to build a solution that will enable us to identify and intervene earlier with patients to optimize the management of chronic kidney disease, while at the same time making home dialysis therapies a real option for more patients,” chief medical officer and VP Dr. Bruce Culleton said in a press release.
CVS is just the most recent player looking to capitalize on the dialysis market as interest in the field grows.