A large clinical trial indicated that thedrug febuxostat resulted in lower levelsof serum uric acid than allopurinol, theagent currently used to treat the painfulform of arthritis in which uric acid crystalsaccumulate in the joints. Accordingto researchers from the University ofChicago Medical Center, both allopurinoland febuxostat will reduce blood levelsof uric acid, thereby preventing thesedeposits from forming. The trial included762 people with gout who were randomlyassigned to take allopurinol or one of 2doses of febuxostat—80 mg/day or 120mg/day. The goal, which was a reductionof uric acid level to no more than 6mg/dL of blood, was achieved in 53% ofthe 80-mg/day group, 62% of the 120-mg/day group, and 21% of the allopurinolgroup. According to study author MichaelA. Becker, MD, the difference betweenthe 2 drugs is that allopurinol is metabolizedby the kidneys, and febuxostat ismetabolized by the liver—which wouldmake febuxostat preferable for peoplewith weak kidney function. Longer-termstudies are needed to determine thedrug's efficacy after 1 year.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.