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Anaemia Neglect in Diabetes Patients; Pan-European Survey by Roche Shows Neglect of Vital Symptom of Kidney Disease.

Business Editors & Health/Medical Writers

BASLE, Switzerland--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 2, 2002

People with diabetes are failing to receive information about anaemia - a silent, unassuming symptom that is both a cause and key indicator of kidney disease, according the results of a Roche survey announced today at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, in Budapest, Hungary (1).

The survey of over 1,000 people with diabetes revealed that although up to 15% had experienced anaemia, overall only 3% of those interviewed knew that anaemia could be related to kidney disease - and only 1% were aware of being tested for anaemia during routine visits to the nurse or doctor.

"It is especially important to diagnose kidney disease early in patients with diabetes, because the course of kidney disease is hugely accelerated in this group", said Dr Donal O'Donoghue, of Hope Hospital Salford, UK. "While the course from diagnosis to dialysis can take decades in non-diabetics, in people with diabetes it can take just a few years to move from a mild asymptomatic disease to chronic renal failure. Anaemia is a key indicator of early kidney disease, and there is evidence that, if anaemia is treated early enough, the course towards complete renal impairment can be prolonged."

Anaemia clearly has a vast impact on quality of life for those people who experience it. Overall nearly half (49%) those with anaemia take time off work due to tiredness or lethargy, 81% struggle to get through the working day, 68% feel that relationships with loved ones suffer due to tiredness, and 83% need to get some sleep during the day. Although the resulting tiredness can be hugely debilitating, anaemia is one of the easiest conditions to treat, particularly with injectable treatments such as NeoRecormon(R) (epoetin beta), which can be self-administered, thus reducing the need for hospital visits or blood transfusions.

The survey interviewed over 1,000 people with diabetes throughout Europe, asking about their overall health status and quality of life, and found that most diabetics feel in control of their diabetes. However tiredness or lethargy (a key symptom of anaemia) was highlighted as an issue by over half (53%) of all respondents, and over half of these said they feel tired or lethargic more often than other people. Despite this high incidence of lethargy, only 1% are aware of being tested for anaemia during routine visits to the nurse or doctor, and only 26% said they had sought treatment for lethargy.

The survey revealed that over half of all diabetics had not been checked for anaemia since their diagnosis - although this is one of the easiest blood tests to run - and the level of knowledge about anaemia was much lower than may be expected. The majority of those interviewed (59%) said they would relate being tired to diabetes, and only 6% realised that anaemia could be related to potential kidney problems.

Over two thirds of diabetics had never been given information about anaemia by doctors or nurses. Amongst those that had heard of it, the level of knowledge about treatment was surprisingly low, with just 2% being aware that specific treatments exist to correct the type of anaemia that is a complication of renal problems.

This was in stark contrast to the level of information made available to diabetics about other conditions related to diabetes. While 69% had been informed about potential eye problems, 51% given information on foot problems and 48% on heart problems, only 46% had been informed about the possibility of kidney problems. The type of information given to these people concentrated heavily on the renal failure and dialysis, but neglected the signs and symptoms of the early stages of kidney disease.

Dr Donal O'Donoghue of Hope Hospital Salford, UK commented: "What the results of this survey are saying is that most diabetics are well informed about the dramatic end stages of the disease. However, we appear to be neglecting the earlier symptoms of renal disease, and the majority of diabetics are also ignoring their tiredness or lethargy and accepting a lower quality of life as a result.

He added: "It is highly possible that this will change in the future, because recent evidence has suggested that anaemia is linked with the initial stages of cardiovascular disease - and may play a role in the irreversible changes that occur in the heart before cardiac disease becomes apparent. The tests for anaemia are easy to perform, and treatment no longer involves blood transfusion. Now, with the availability of epoetin people with anaemia can administer their own treatment without the need for hospital visits."

Key facts from the survey:
- Nearly a third (28%) had experience of anaemia or tiredness that may have caused anaemia lasting over a month o 74% of diabetics who experience tiredness do not seek medical treatment o 49% of diabetics experiencing anaemia or tiredness take time off work, 80% find it difficult to complete chores, 68% feel relationships suffer because of tiredness and 64% have less sexual drive

- Although 12% of respondents had been diagnosed with anaemia during their adult life, only a tiny minority of these (14%) had been given information about kidney problems


References:

1. Assessment of Awareness of Anaemia among Diabetic Patients. Survey conducted by NOP World interviewing 1054 adults with diabetes aged 18+ by telephone in Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Greece, and Italy. Fieldwork May - June 2002.

About Roche:

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world's leading research-oriented healthcare groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and vitamins. Roche's innovative products and services address needs for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, thus enhancing people's well-being and quality of life.

(R) NeoRecormon is a registered trademark of F. Hoffman-La Roche and is legally protected. All trademarks used or mentioned in this release are legally protected.

Notes to editors:

NeoRecormon (epoetin beta) is available in a comprehensive range of formulations and offers a flexible dosing frequency enabling the physician to tailor treatment to each patients needs with once or three times weekly frequency. It can be administered either intravenously or by convenient subcutaneous injection in the clinic or at home using pre-filled syringes or with a practical, automatic injection pen called the 'RecoPen'. NeoRecormon (epoetin beta) has consistently provided safe and effective treatment of anaemia in patients for over 10 years. The favourable safety and tolerability profile of NeoRecormon (epoetin beta) has been established in a clinical programme involving over 4000 dialysis and pre-dialysis patients with chronic renal disease. Full prescribing information available upon request.
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