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Firm Will Unveil Home Dialysis Machine : Health: Baxter International says its device is lighter, easier to use than forerunners.

August 24, 1994|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Baxter International Inc. was to introduce today a portable dialysis machine that kidney patients will be able to use at home while they sleep.

Dialysis cleanses the blood of wastes, replacing the function of weak or failed kidneys. The big medical equipment company is hoping its HomeChoice system will help doctors take some people off the conventional routine, which requires spending about four hours in a clinic three times a week.

Home dialysis equipment has been available since 1978, but Baxter executives said Tuesday that the new system's computer technology makes it lighter, more portable and simpler to use than earlier products.

They also said switching to HomeChoice will save about half the cost of conventional dialysis--which runs between $20,000 and $35,000 a year--because using it will not require the services of a doctor, nurse or clinic.

"Essentially, there are three steps to follow and (patients) can set up the machine in five minutes," said Arthur Holden, a Baxter vice president of marketing.

Kidney specialists applauded the announcement, saying the machine could make home dialysis available to thousands of people. About 85% of the 600,000 dialysis patients in the world are treated away from home.

HomeChoice "seems to be an effective and valuable addition," said Dr. Garabed Eknoyan, a member of the board of the National Kidney Foundation. "It can do the job, and it works at night without supervision."

HomeChoice uses a relatively new method called peritoneal dialysis. A sterile solution of mostly water and sugar is pumped into the abdominal cavity via tubes. The peritoneal membrane, which lines the cavity, filters out wastes from the blood and transfers them to the fluid. Later, the fluid is pumped out with the wastes.

In conventional hemodialysis, the kind available in clinics, the blood is pumped out of the body and through a machine that cleanses it and pumps it back in.

Baxter, which gets $1 billion of its $9 billion in annual revenue from dialysis machinery and chemicals, is a pioneer in home peritoneal dialysis. The method has not caught on, however, because the machines weigh about 200 pounds each and are cumbersome to handle, especially for older patients.

Baxter's stock was unchanged at $27.625 a share Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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