Febuxostat: The New Kid on the Block
Febuxostat is a pharmaceutical drug first discovered by Japanese scientists in 1998, that goes by the trade name Uloric in the US and Adenuric in Europe. Febuxostat first came to market in Europe in 2008 and Takeda Pharmaceutical obtained FDA approval for the US in 2009. It is a drug that inhibits xanthine oxidase, effectively reducing uric acid in the body. Like allopurinol, it is used to treat chronic gout and hyperuricemia.
Recent research suggests that febuxostat is more effective compared to allopurinol in the treatment of gout. According to the authors of a study published in Arthritis Research & Therapy “Comparative effectiveness of urate lowering with febuxostat versus allopurinol in gout: analyses from large U.S. managed care cohort, optimal treatment of gout is based on two principles: adequate chronic use of urate-lowering therapies and aiming to achieve target serum urate (sUA) levels and anti-inflammatory therapies for acute flares and anti-inflammatory prophylaxis.” Note that until 2009 since the FDA approved Febuxostat, the only drug utilized for this purpose was allopurinol.
The researchers conducted a retrospective study of medical and pharmacy claims and laboratory data from a large US commercial and commercial insurance health plan claims data for a 3 year period between 2009 to 2011. The purpose of this was “to study the change in sUA with allopurinol versus febuxostat treatment by assessing the proportion of patients achieving a post-index sUA goal of <6.0 mg/dL in the follow-up period, a clinically meaningful and important outcome for patients with gout.”
In conclusion, the researchers found that more febuxostat users reached uric acid target levels, and this happened more quickly than with allopurinol. Up until now febuxostat is recommended as a second-line drug for people who cannot use allopurinol cause it causes side effects for them. And for gout sufferers who also suffer from renal disease and very high uric acid levels, febuxostat is more effective in regularizing uric acid levels.
Research continues to be conducted into the long term effects of febuxostat around the world. I will keep you posted as new information arises. Make sure to subscribe to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, where I report my gout news updates.
How To Take Febuxostat
Febuxostat is taken in tablet form with water, once daily with or without food. Febuxostat is available in 80 mg and 120 mg strength tablets. Your doctor will usually start you at 80 mg daily and only increase it to 120 mg if you haven’t reached targeted uric acid levels. Febuxostat usually lowers uric acid levels within a few weeks time.
The side effects associated with febuxostat include nausea, diarrhea, arthralgia, headache, increased hepatic serum enzyme levels and rash. For those wanting to learn more about febuxostat, I’ve linked to this extensive Medscape article for you to review. If you are on febuxostat, I’d like to hear from you. Leave a comment below!