What is febuxostat and why is it prescribed?
Febuxostat (trade name: Adenuric) is used in the long-term treatment and prevention of gout. Taken regularly, it can stop attacks of gout and help prevent damage to the joints.
The body naturally produces a substance called urate, which is normally dissolved in the blood until it's passed out of the body in the urine. When too much urate is produced, or if the body can't get rid of it properly, the blood can't dissolve all the urate and solid crystals can form in and around joints, causing inflammation and pain.
Febuxostat blocks an enzyme called xanthine oxidase which is involved in producing urate. By reducing the amount of urate produced febuxostat helps to keep the level low enough to allow the crystals to dissolve and prevent attacks of gout. You may already have tried another drug called allopurinol which works in a similar way.
Usually, you'll be prescribed febuxostat for gout if blood tests show your urate level is high and one or more of the following applies:
- you're having repeated attacks of gout
- your joints or kidneys have been damaged by attacks of gout
- you have deposits of urate crystals affecting your skin (Gouty tophi).
Are there any reasons I won't be prescribed febuxostat?
Febuxostat is normally used only if allopurinol is unsuitable for you either because you have another condition or because you've had side-effects from allopurinol.
Febuxostat may not be suitable for you if you've had or have:
- a heart attack or certain types of heart disease
- severe kidney disease
- moderate or severe liver disease
- thyroid problems.
Your doctor will arrange for you to have a blood test before you start febuxostat to check your urate levels, kidney and liver.
Febuxostat contains lactose so you should tell your doctor if you're lactose intolerant.