New Gout Treatment May Ease Symptoms

Febuxostat May Reduce Flare-Ups and Pain More Often Standard Treatment

From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 21, 2004 -- An experimental new gout treatment lowers uric acid levels better and may result in fewer gout attacks than currently available treatments, a new study suggests.

Gout is a painful form of inflammatory arthritis. The condition is caused by an excess of uric acid in the body. Deposits of uric acid collect in the joints, causing pain, swelling, redness, stiffness, and inflammation.

Gout occurs more commonly in men and is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

In the study, researchers compared the safety and effectiveness of the experimental drug febuxostat vs. allopurinol in the treatment of gout. Allopurinol is the most commonly used medication for lowering uric acid levels in people who suffer from frequent attacks of gout.

They found that significantly more participants taking febuxostat had reduced uric acid levels and gout flare-ups than participants who were treated with allopurinol.

The results were presented this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in San Antonio.

New Gout Treatment Appears Effective

In the study, 760 people with gout were randomly assigned to receive one of two doses of febuxostat (80 or 120 mg) or 300 mg of allopurinol for one year. All of the participants had uric acid levels over 8.0 milligrams per deciliter at the start of the study.

At the end of the study, researchers found that 53% of those on the lower dose of febuxostat and 62% of those on the higher dose had lowered their uric acid levels below 6.0 milligrams per deciliter compared with only 21% of those who received allopurinol.

Those participants whose uric acid levels were below this threshold had less pain and fewer gout flare-ups that required treatment than those who did not.

Researchers found side effects were similar among all groups and included upper respiratory infections, liver function problems, diarrhea, and headache.

The study was conducted by researchers at TAP Pharmaceuticals, which makes febuxostat.

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SOURCES: American College of Rheumatology annual meeting, San Antonio, Oct. 16-20, 2004. News release, TAP Pharmaceutical.
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