Local doctor sticking it to kidney stones

The original article appeared in the Austin American-Statesman on July 18, 2018. Written by Holt Hackney

Westlake (Texas) grad Michael Trotter develops supplement that aids hydration, helps prevent painful condition

Michael Trotter was used to the questions.

His friends knew he was a urologist. So, every now and then, they would query him about a medical condition they were having, or an issue of the day.

But whereas the doctor, who was born and raised in Westlake, might ordinarily answer the question and move on, a question posed to him on a hot summer day in 2012 stuck with him.

“We were on Lake McQueeney when one of my close friends with kidney stones asked, ‘Why haven’t you made something to get rid of my stones?’ ” said Trotter.

That sent Trotter off on a mission to create a unique solution for a ubiquitous problem, especially among athletes and those with an active lifestyle. Today, his KSPtabs supplement are distributed all over the country in brick-and-mortar pharmacies as well as on Amazon.com

When combined with water, the supplement promotes regular hydration while keeping the kidneys replenished with natural stone inhibitors. This has led to 10-percent growth per month in 2018. In May alone, the company saw a 60-percent increase over April.

“The prevalence for kidney stones has more than doubled in the past 30 years,” he said. “The lifetime risk for men is one in five now. It’s 10 percent of the population when you include women.”

And the solution was relatively simple for Trotter.

“I knew about certain minerals that have an impact on reducing stone formation,” he said. “The key components of KSPtabs (www.ksptabs.com) are potassium and magnesium, which are bound to citrate. This is a potent inhibitor of urinary crystal formation.

“However, if it’s not easy or tastes bad, then patients won’t comply. For most people, that rules out making major diet changes and loading up on pills daily. That got me thinking about some effervescent tablets that I had recently been introduced to.

“By having ingredients pressed into a tablet, they dissolve easily and are very portable (10 per tube). Patients get all the protective electrolytes, while hydrating at the same time and keeping their kidneys flushed. There are lots of electrolyte drinks out there, but they contain tons of sugar, salt, and artificial colors and flavors. We embraced an all-natural approach, using avocado oil to bind the tablets, beet juice to color the berry tablets, and riboflavin to color the key lime flavor.”

Trotter added that being raised in health-conscious Austin influenced this approach. And there were several other benefits to building his business in Central Texas.

“Great connections with the community are essential to brand awareness,” said Trotter, a 1991 graduate of Westlake High School and a University of Texas graduate. “I was raised in Austin, and we’ve partnered with many local pharmacies and have had support from other urology groups as well.

“Furthermore, Austin is a hotbed for kidney stones and dehydration. We have extremely hot temperatures and an active community that paired together makes for a very dehydrated group. When you’re dehydrated, your body is ripe for kidney stones. Salty foods, caffeine, and alcohol are all contributors to dehydration and loved by Austinites. That being said, they are also health-conscious, so when a product like KSPtabs came along, they embraced it and gave us the jump-start we needed.”

The evidence is the rate of referrals, which represents 50 percent of all sales.

“With the chance at getting kidney stones at one in 10, everyone seems to know someone who has gone through this painful experience,” Trotter said. “While we are adding pharmacies and our online exposure, it really is our customers who are expanding the product to their network.”

But can the competition be far behind? Trotter is not looking in his rear-view mirror.

“No one had the idea to make an effervescent tablet to combine hydration with an electrolyte supplement that balances pH at the same time,” he said. “Kidney-stone disease, gout, lactic-acid build-up with exercise are all created in an acidic environment. Our body manages acid primarily through respiration, sweat and filtration through the kidneys. KSPtabs focuses on optimizing the kidney’s ability to handle acid build-up in the body and promote hydration.

“There are some alternatives on the market, but they have more than needed ingredients, taste bad, or don’t include the hydrating component. Getting the right supplements to combat stones, gout and lactic acid from exercise is only part of the battle. You must stay hydrated to continually flush the kidneys of the elements that are responsible for stone formation. We didn’t want a pill, because you don’t consume enough liquid when taking them.

“It also needed to be convenient, which meant a powder to mix was out of the question. We thought long and hard about that aspect, which is why our dissolving tablets come in a water-proof tube, which is easy to travel with and keep at home, in the car, or purse. They also are unique, and that they come in two different flavors which is important for our customers who don’t want to drink the same thing every day.”

However, even with a booming business, Trotter is in no great hurry to shutter his practice and become a full-time CEO.

“I see myself continuing to practice urology, because I inherently find gratitude in helping people with their medical issues,” he said. “My practice helps validate our product and is a great way to continue to expose KSPtabs to other physicians in the field.”