Drug Already on Market May Be a Boon to Gout Patients
Arcalyst Used in Tandem With Another Drug Helped Prevent Painful Gout Flare-ups
Gout No Longer ‘Disease of Kings’ continued...
Gout attacks often occur at night with the sudden onset of throbbing joint pain. The joint feels hot and looks red and swollen, and the pain is often so intense that even a sheet touching the afflicted area is unbearable.
A single joint is usually involved, but occasionally multiple joints are involved during a flare.
Attacks can last from a few days to a few weeks, but if uric acid levels remain high, they are likely to recur within months or years.
Men suffer from gout more than women, but its incidence is increasing among both sexes and is no longer considered a disease of the wealthy.
Fewer Gout Flares in Arcalyst Patients
The newly published study included 83 patients with gout who were starting uric acid-lowering therapy with the drug allopurinol.
Roughly half the patients were also treated with weekly injections of Arcalyst while half got weekly placebo injections.
Arcalyst is approved for the treatment of a group of rare, inherited inflammatory diseases known as cryopyrin-associated periodic syndromes. It works by targeting and neutralizing a protein that is involved in inflammation.
Over 12 weeks of treatment, 45% of the placebo-treated patients experienced gout flares compared to just under 15% of patients treated with Arcalyst.
Over three months of treatment, six flares occurred in the Arcalyst group compared to 33 in the placebo group.
The study was funded by the drug's developer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Tarrytown, N.Y.
Gout Doctor: ‘Head-to-Head Study Needed’
Study co-investigator Robert Terkeltaub, MD, of the San Diego VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Diego, says the treatment may prove to be a good choice in combination with uric acid-lowering drugs for patients who also have diabetes or kidney disease and cannot take colchicine.
Rheumatologist Avram Goldberg, MD, of New York’s North Shore-LIJ Health System says studies are needed comparing Arcalyst with colchicine and other drugs used for gout attacks.
“It would be nice to know if this drug works better than colchicine,” he tells WebMD. “I would like to see a head-to-head comparison.”
Goldberg says it is also not clear if patients will be receptive to a once-a-week shot.
“Gout attacks leave patients miserable, so they may readily accept weekly shots to prevent them,” he says. “But that remains to be seen.”