Drug for Gout Flares in Development

A gout flare is just what it sounds like. People can have gout without discomfort for a long time, but then it flares up, causing significant irritation and pain.

Several drugs are available for treating gout flares. (Diet and lifestyle medications can also help.) A recent study has demonstrated the effectiveness of a new medication in the treatment of the flares. It’s called arhalofenate, and it’s the first compound in a new class of investigational therapies that its manufacturer, CymaBay Therapeutics, Inc., calls urate lowering anti-flare therapy.

The description indicates that the drug lowers the amount of urate crystals, which cause gout (and related pain) when they accumulate in a joint. Urate crystals might form when a person has high levels of uric acid in the blood.

The study enrolled 239 subjects who had experienced more than three gout flare-ups in the previous year. The subjects were assigned to one of four groups: The first received arhalofenate, the second received the drug allopurinol, the third received allopurinol plus colchicine, and the fourth received a placebo.

After 12 weeks, the results showed that the incidence of gout flares was significantly lower in the arhalofenate group than in the allopurinol group or the placebo group. The results for the allopurinol plus colchicine group were roughly the same as for the arhalofenate group. No serious side effects were reported, and arhalofenate appeared safe. The key finding, the researchers said, was that unlike other gout medications, arhalofenate has a “dual method of action.” That is, it not only lowers the levels of uric acid in the blood, but also it has an anti-inflammatory action that, the researchers reported, is “well suited to treating gout.”

Researchers are now conducting a phase III trial that combines arhalofenate with Uloric (febuxostat) to test how the drugs work for people with chronic gout.

A version of this article was published in the December 2016/January 2017 issue of Pain-Free Living. Subscribe.

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