How effective is febuxostat in the treatment of gout? What are the pros and cons? Read on to discover Find out about this relatively new drug for gout.
Febuxostat for Gout
What is Febuxostat?
Febuxostat is the generic name given to a new drug which comes in film-coated tablets of 40 mg, 80 mg and 120 mg and is used to reduce high uric acid levels (hyperuricemia) in gout patients. It is particularly indicated where the patient already has urate crystal deposition, including the presence of tophus. It is only available on prescription.
In the United States and Canada, febuxostat is branded as Uloric, Adenuric in the European Union (EU) and Feburic in Asia.
How Does Febuxostat Work?
Uric acid is naturally formed through the breakdown of purines in the body which normally expels excess acid via urine with a little through the stools. However, excess uric acid can be retained in the bloodstream when the body produces more acid than it can eliminate. High uric acid levels can eventually lead to the deposition of crystals of urate in the joints and surrounding tissue, causing the excruciating symptoms of gout.
Febuxostat is a xanthine oxidase inhibitor. Xanthine oxidase is an enzyme in the body that helps to convert purines into uric acid. Febuxostat can inhibit this activity and so can help to reduce the amount of uric acid produced.
What to Tell Your Doctor Before Taking Febuxostat
You should tell your doctor if you…
- are pregnant
- are breastfeeding
- are allergic to febuxostat or any of the ingredients in the tablets
- have or have had heart problems
- have thyroid problems
- are taking any other medications
How to Take Febuxostat
Your doctor will tell you how to take it. He or she will decide on the dose applicable to your condition. This is usually a 40 mg, 80 mg or a 120 mg tablet taken once per day with a full glass of water. It can be taken with or without food. Take the tablets exactly as your doctor prescribes. If you miss a dose do not double-up on the next dose. And do not stop taking the tablets unless your doctor tells you to.
Note that, after starting on a course, you may suffer one or more gout attacks. Do not stop taking the tablets. This happens naturally as uric acid is removed from the joints and tissue because of the action of the drug. Your doctor may prescribe NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to help relieve the painful symptoms.
Febuxostat Side Effects
As with any drug there are possible negative side effects with the taking of febuxostat. But not everyone will suffer these side effects. In fact, most patients will tolerate it quite well. And where they do appear, they are usually fairly minor and either don’t need any treatment, or, only require some simple treatment by your physician.
Common side effects are:- headache, nausea, unexplained rash, diarrhea, liver function test abnormalities.
Uncommon are:- dizziness, fatigue, oedema, altered sense of taste, increase in blood amylase, decrease in platelet count, increase in blood creatinine, and arthralgia.
Rare side effects:- insomnia, nervousness, renal insufficiency, asthenia.
There are some rare, but serious, side effects that you should report urgently to your health-care provider. These are things such as:-
- chest pain
- difficulty breathing
- easy bruising or bleeding
- swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue, throat, etc.
- unexplained rash
- frequent / persistent infections
- numbness in arms, legs, face
- liver problems (yellowing of the whites of the eyes, dark colored urine)
Note that the lists of side effects given above are not complete. For a more detailed list of possible febuxostat side effects please speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
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