What are the possible risks and side-effects of febuxostat?
The most common side-effects are:
- skin rashes
- nausea (feeling sick)
- taste disturbance
- abnormal liver test results
- palpitations (irregular heart beat)
- reduced sex drive.
If you develop a rash when you start febuxostat, particularly within the first month, you should stop the medication immediately and discuss this with your GP. You should also tell your doctor if you develop any other new symptoms that concern you.
Sometimes when you start febuxostat it can trigger an acute attack of gout as the crystals begin to dissolve. This is more likely if your blood urate levels are very high and you've had gout for a long time, and it doesn't mean that the drug isn't working. You'll usually be given a medicine to take in addition to your febuxostat, which will reduce the risk of a flare of gout. This will be a small dose of either a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), colchicine or steroids.
If you do have an acute attack of gout while on febuxostat, don't stop taking it. Treat the attack as you would normally.
If you're unable to continue taking febuxostat, your doctor may suggest a drug such as benzbromarone or sulfinpyrazone, which reduce urate levels by increasing the amount of urate passed in the urine.