Bureau warns of ignorance about medication effects

MISINFORMATION::Many diabetes patients are failing to take their prescribed medications regularly, which can lead eventually to kidney failure

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 - Page 3

A majority of people mistakenly believe that medications for diabetes and high blood pressure cause kidney damage, according to the Bureau of Health Promotion.

Bureau Director-General Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞) said that patients often fail to take medication prescribed for diabetes which can result in hyperglycemia and thus damage to the kidneys.

The 2007 Survey on the Prevalence of Hypertension, Hyperglycemia and Hyperlipidemia conducted by the bureau found that one out of 20 adults aged 20 and over in the country suffers from chronic kidney disease (CKD), with patients in the latter stages of the disease needing to undergo regular dialysis treatment. The total cost of the procedures was about NT$30.8 billion (US$1.04 billion) in 2011, 6 percent of the total National Health Insurance budget, the bureau said.

According to a 2011 Institutions of Diabetes Health Promotion Survey, 46.6 percent of those who have diabetes suffer from CKD, and the Taiwan renal data system of Taiwan Society of Nephrology shows that for 43.2 percent of the patients who need to undergo dialysis treatment, diabetes is the underlying cause.

However, despite such a high incidence of diabetes and CKD, a behavior risk factor surveillance conducted by the bureau discovered that people are often misinformed about medications for hypertension, hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia, with 30 percent out of 16,854 adults aged 18 and over believing that these medications can protect the kidneys.

The bureau said the findings show that people still hold the erroneous, stereotypical belief that Western medications are harmful to the kidneys, and this belief is the main reason why so many patients failed to take their prescribed medications regularly, which can eventually lead to kidney failure.

Chiou cautioned patients that it is unlicensed drugs that cause kidney damage, not the medications prescribed by doctors, which actually can help patients with diabetes avoid kidney failure.