First New Gout Drug in 40 Years to be Approved

November 26, 2008

King Henry VIII of England, Reportedly a Gout Sufferer, Playing the HarpPerhaps King Henry VIII, who purportedly suffered from gout, would have had less of a flair for the dramatic — such as beheading wives he’d tired of — had he not been in pain from gout. The corpulent monarch is shown here playing the harp in the company of royal jester Will Somers, in an illustration from the 16th century King’s Psalter held by the British Museum of London, England. The news is better for present-day gout sufferers, as an FDA arthritis advisory committee has voted 12-0 to approve Uloric as a treatment for chronic gout. Uloric is the first new drug in 40 years to be approved for treatment of gout, a painful arthritic joint disease primarily afflicting middle-aged men.

The Osaka-Japan based Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Inc., which makes Uloric, says that its medicine — which reduces uric acid levels — works well for patients with kidney disease. Dr. Nancy Joseph-Ridge, head of research and development for Takeda, told CTV: “A lot of gout patients suffer from kidney disease. This is something of real need. Patients who could not take the other drug [allopurinol] will now have treatment.”

About five million people in the United States suffer from gout, which is caused when uric acid accumulates in the blood. In healthy individuals, uric acid dissolves in the blood and is excreted in urine. But high uric acid levels lead to the formation of needle-like crystals which cause intense swelling and pain as the crystals are deposited in joints. Often, the first gout attack is in a big toe. Even the light touch of a sheet on a gout-afflicted joint can cause intense pain, and the disease can progress and cause deformities in other parts of the body.

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