Keep Your New Kidney and Your Wallet

Kidney transplant patients benefit from Campath as much as more expensive drugs

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Just because something is more expensive, doesn't mean it's better. This may be the case when you're buying a car, or even when doctors are deciding which drug to prescribe for you.

Researcher believe of three different drugs that keep the body from rejecting kidney transplants, the cheapest is just as safe and effective as the other two.

"Ask your doctor which drug is best for keeping kidney transplants healthy."

Researchers compared three drugs: Simulect (basiliximab), Thymoglobulin (antithymocyte globulin), and Campath (alemtuzumab). Campath is the cheapest of the three, costing around $2000 versus $4,000 and $10,000 for Simulect and Thymoglobulin.

After following 474 kidney transplant patients for three years, researchers found that Campath may be the best choice for keeping the body from rejecting a kidney in the first year after a transplant.

Even though Campath has been around for years, there hasn't really been a clear answer about how well it works and how safe it is, says Michael Hanaway, M.D., from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and lead author of the study.

Now, a very important question has been answered for kidney transplant patients and the doctors that care for them.

For their study, Hanaway and colleagues broke up transplant patients into two groups: those who had a high risk of kidney rejection and those who had a low risk. High-risk patients took either Thymoglobulin or Campath. Low-risk patients took either Simulect or Campath.

Low-risk patients who took Campath were less likely to lose a donated kidney, compared to low-risk patients who took Simulect. High-risk patients who took Campath had about the same likelihood of losing a donated kidney as those taking Thymoglobulin.

What really makes Campath stand apart, says Hanaway, is that it costs so much less than the other two drugs. Even though no drug is perfect, he adds, it makes sense to go with the cheapest option if it works just as well.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 19, 2011
Last Updated:
May 26, 2011