Dialysis patients warned against unregistered drug
Demand for kidney dialysis—the process of removing via a machine some of a person’s blood, cleaning it and then returning it to the person’s body—is expected to increase in the Philippines as the prevalence of chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease rises.
Currently, there are around 4 million Filipinos diagnosed with diabetes while some 4.2 million remain undiagnosed. Moreover, one in four adult Filipinos has high blood pressure while diseases of the heart and the vascular system have remained the top two causes of death in the country since 1993.
“No wonder, close to 16,000 Filipinos every year are being added to the list of those undergoing dialysis,” said Dr. Maria Gina Nazareth of the Philippine Society of Nephrology, for which, she believes, is not a sign of a healthy society.
According to Nazareth, not only is dialysis placing an unexpected financial burden on individuals and their families (costs P4,000 per session) but the procedure also made the government spend some P7 billion just last year (the government’s Philippine Health Insurance Corp. or PhilHealth now spends P2,600 per patient per session and up to a maximum of 90 sessions).
Then recently, those on dialysis were warned about the proliferation of unregistered drug product, which is essential to their well-being.
Early this year, the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an advisory against taking unregistered sevelamer carbonate (particularly those 800-miligram tablets manufactured in China).
Sevelamer is used to lower high blood phosphorus (phosphate) levels in patients who are on dialysis due to severe kidney disease. While dialysis removes some phosphate from their blood, it is difficult to remove enough of them to keep phosphate levels balanced.
Nazareth explained that phosphorus and calcium control are very important for those undergoing dialysis adding that decreasing blood phosphate levels can help keep patients’ bones strong, prevent unsafe buildup of minerals in the body, and possibly decrease the risk of heart disease and strokes that can result from high phosphate levels.
“Phosphorus can be in many foods we consume. When you have kidney disease, it’s good to keep levels under control. Work with a renal dietitian to help you manage your phosphorus intake and be sure the medicines you take passed the scrutiny of regulatory agencies like the FDA,” reminded Nazareth.
Foods to watch out for
Dietitians and doctors could help those on dialysis select the right foods they should eat as well as avoid.
Since phosphorus is present in many favorite foods, it can be difficult to deprive ourselves of something we like so much like chocolate, eggs, nuts and cola drinks (among the foods highest in phosphorus) as well as these food items:
- milk products including cheese
- organ meats like liver
• most processed/prepared foods
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