By Aleksandr Ivasenko @

It’s not often a drug store/insurance company begins building its own medical devices. In fact, this may be a first. CVS is testing its own home dialysis machine. The machine could make the process of dialysis easier for the nearly 500,000 Americans on dialysis. Anna Wilde Mathews reports at The Wall Street Journal:

CVS Health Corp. CVS -1.17% is making an ambitious move into kidney care, launching a clinical trial for a new home-dialysis device designed by the firm of Dean Kamen, the Segway inventor.

The company is delving into unusual territory for a drugstore and health insurer. The plan will make it a medical-device firm and a provider of dialysis, the complex blood-cleansing procedure vital to patients suffering from kidney failure. CVS holds exclusive U.S. rights to the HemoCare device, which was created by Mr. Kamen’s firm, Deka Research & Development Corp.

CVS will work to capitalize on an initiative announced last week by the Trump administration, which wants to move more dialysis into the home, rather than dialysis centers, where most U.S. patients currently get the procedure. Dialysis is covered by Medicare, including for patients under the age of 65. The care of patients with end-stage renal disease is a major cost for the program, amounting to around $35 billion in 2016, or roughly 7% of total spending under traditional Medicare.

The Department of Health and Human Services said increased use of home dialysis could reduce costs and “preserve or enhance the quality of care.”

Alan Lotvin, executive vice president at CVS, said the company is making a broader push into care for patients with kidney disease, including managing the care of those who aren’t yet eligible for dialysis. CVS plans to offer home dialysis services, both using the new device and a different method known as peritoneal dialysis, but it doesn’t expect to perform dialysis in its own facilities or stores, he said. The new device is expected to be leased or sold to other providers, he said.

“We think that this is a really important step forward for the care of patients,” Dr. Lotvin said.

Read more here.