Gout--what are the treatment options?

Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2009 Jun;10(8):1319-28. doi: 10.1517/14656560902950742.


There has been an increase in the incidence and prevalence of gout in the past several decades. A distinction needs to be made between the treatment of gout as an acute inflammatory disease and the lowering of the serum urate (SU) levels into a normal range. Treating acute gout attacks alone is not sufficient to prevent the disease from progressing. When treating gout one needs to treat acute attacks, and lower excess stores of uric acid to achieve dissolution of monosodium urate crystals through a long-term reduction of SU concentrations far beyond the threshold for saturation of urate and provide prophylaxis to prevent acute flares. The options available for the treatment of acute gout are NSAIDs, colchicine, corticosteroids, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and intra-articular corticosteroids. The most important determinant of therapeutic success is not which anti-inflammatory agent is chosen, but rather how soon therapy is initiated and that the dose be appropriate. Prophylaxis should be considered an adjunct, rather than an alternative, to long-term urate-lowering therapy. For purposes of maintaining patient adherence to urate-lowering therapy, there is interest in improving prophylaxis of such treatment-induced attacks. The optimal agent, dose and duration for gout prophylaxis are unknown and require further investigation. The importance of long-term management of gout is the reduction and maintenance of SU in a goal range, usually defined as less than 6.0 mg/dL. Allopurinol and benzbromarone remain the cornerstone drugs for reducing SU levels lower than the saturation threshold to dissolve urate deposits effectively. Febuxostat and pegloticase help to optimize control of SU levels, especially in those patients with the most severe gout. Other agents, such as fenofibrate and losartan may be helpful as adjuvant drugs. Treatment for gout has advanced little in the last 40 years, until recently. The recent development of new therapeutic options promises to provide much needed alternatives for the many patients with gout who are intolerant of or refractory to available therapies. It is important to note that inappropriate use of medications as opposed to an apparent refractoriness to available therapies is not uncommon.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Colchicine / therapeutic use*
  • Gout / drug therapy*
  • Gout / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Uric Acid / blood


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Uric Acid
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Colchicine