Difelikefalin is intended to treat adult haemodialysis patients with moderate to severe chronic kidney disease-associated pruritus (CKD-aP) (uraemic pruritus). Uraemic pruritus can be very unpleasant; about half of affected individuals become agitated or depressed. Uraemic pruritus in haemodialysis patients is associated with a 17% increase in mortality. Currently there are no approved treatments specifically for this condition.
Difelikefalin is a potent kappa opioid receptor agonist that is an itch and inflammation suppressant. Difelikefalin intravenous injection acts as an itch and inflammation suppressant without the undesirable side-effects typical of a centrally-acting opioid medicine such as hallucinations or opioid addiction. If licensed, difelikefalin will offer an additional treatment option for adult haemodialysis patients with moderate to severe CKD-aP who currently have few effective therapies available.
Vadadustat is in development for the treatment of anaemia in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Anaemia is a condition where the body has fewer red blood cells (RBC) to carry oxygen throughout the body resulting in a decline in function of the body’s organs and tissues. Symptoms of anaemia in CKD patients include weakness, fatigue, headaches, dizziness and difficulty breathing. Anaemia is common in people with CKD because diseased kidneys produce less erythropoietin (EPO) which is needed to make RBCs. Current treatment for anaemia in CKD involves erythropoietin stimulating agents (ESAs) however, they may result in adverse side-effects so there is a need for safer treatment options.