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Health Center Today, August 19, 2011

JAMA Study: Gout Drug Effective for Severe Cases

By Chris DeFrancesco

Photo of Dr. William White

Dr. William White is a co-author of a study of a new gout therapy found to be effective in the most severe cases. The findings are published in the August 17 Journal of the American Medical Association. (Click image for larger view.)

Photo by Janine Gelineau

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows a new drug to be effective in treating gout patients who haven’t responded to standard treatment.

Pegloticase is marketed under the trade name Krystexxa by the pharmaceutical company Savient, which designed and funded the study. Patients injected with pegloticase were found to have fewer symptoms than placebo recipients. They also were more likely to have a serious reaction to the injections.

“This drug is highly specialized for people with the type of gout that is hard to treat to other types of oral medications,” says Dr. William White, professor of medicine and chief of the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center Division of Hypertension and Clinical Pharmacology. “This is an important therapy for people with the most severe gout as about half of those treated will get dramatic improvements.”

White was one of the study co-authors in charge of cardiovascular safety assessments.

Most of the 5-to-6 million people in the U.S. with gout will never use Krystexxa. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it last year for use in the estimated 3 percent of patients who either do not improve with typical oral medications or cannot take them.

The drug works by breaking down uric acid in the body to reduce the likelihood it will accumulate in joints and form crystals, which cause the swelling and pain symptomatic of gout.

The data from two randomized controlled trials showed pegloticase to be effective in reducing levels of uric acid, but most patients also reported at least one “adverse event,” such as a gout flare-up or reaction to the injections.

The study abstract is available at