SUNDAY, Oct. 26, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- The drug pegloticase (Puricase) may help gout patients who've had no luck with other treatments, according to researchers who studied 212 patients who'd run out of treatment options.
They were randomly assigned to receive six months of intravenous treatment with either pegloticase or a placebo. One group of patients received 8 milligrams of pegloticase every two weeks, another group received 8 milligrams of pegloticase every four weeks, and a third group received the placebo.
The patients -- mostly men with an average age of 55 years -- had a significantly better response to pegloticase than to the placebo. While there wasn't a significant difference in number of gout flares, more of the patients who took the drug had more complete resolution of tophi, which are chalky deposits or uric acid. The patients who took pegloticase also noticed improved physical function.
Overall, pegloticase was successful in treating 40 percent of patients. Successful treatment was defined as having uric acid readings within the normal range at least 80 percent of the time in months three and six.
Patients who took pegloticase had more serious adverse side effects than those who took the placebo.
"Patients with treatment failure gout suffer from severe pain, increased disability, and reduced quality of life," lead investigator Dr. John S. Sundy, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, said in an American College of Rheumatology news release. "Therefore, these findings are exciting, because they show that pegloticase was able to reduce urate levels and improve clinical outcomes in subjects with gout who had exhausted all available treatment options."
The findings were expected to be presented Sunday at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting, in San Francisco.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about gout.