Emerging therapies in the long-term management of hyperuricaemia and gout
Gout is a common chronic arthritis that can lead to significant disability. Gout is one of the few rheumatological conditions that can be diagnosed with certainty, has a known cause and can be cured with appropriate therapy. Hypouricaemic agents reduce uric acid concentrations through inhibiting uric acid production (allopurinol) or enhancing uric acid excretion (probenecid, benzbromarone). Allopurinol is the most commonly used hypouricaemic agent but at recommended doses often fails to reduce adequately uric acid concentrations and prevent acute attacks of gout. The use of probenecid is limited by lack of efficacy in renal impairment. In the last few years, new agents in the management of hyperuricaemia and gout have become available. Febuxostat, a new xanthine oxidase inhibitor, is an effective hypouricaemic agent although further data are required for patients with renal impairment and other significant medical conditions. Rasburicase, a recombinant uricase (which catalyses the conversion of uric acid to the more readily excreted allantoin) is available for prevention of tumour lysis syndrome. However, its repeated use, as would be required in chronic gout, is limited by antigenicity. A less antigenic PEGylated uricase can rapidly reduce serum uric acid concentrations and promote resorption of tophi. However, further information with regard to the long-term risks and benefits of these agents is required. These agents may ultimately be used in the short term to rapidly deplete urate stores (induction therapy) followed by long-term therapy with an alternative hypouricaemic agent to prevent subsequent accumulation of uric acid (maintenance therapy).