Uloric: When to Consider Uloric vs Allopurinol for Gout

Uloric is a great addition to our war chest of drugs to treat gout. Uloric is essentially a newer and very slightly better alternative to the excellent generic drug allopurinol.  I want to be clear that I am no fan of most newer more expensive alternatives to perfectly good cheap generic medications.  I am a big proponent of generic drugs, and I almost always use allopurinol when it is a viable option. Allopurinol remains the mainstay of hyperuricemia therapy.  It is a highly effective inexpensive generic drug that physicians have used for years to lower serum uric acid levels and prevent gout attacks.  The problem is that a small minority of patients will develop an allergic rash to allopurinol.  Until Uloric became available last year we didn’t have much else we could use to prevent attacks of recurrent gout in patients who could not take allopurinol.  In addition patients allergic to allopurinol patients with significant renal dysfunction may not be able to use allopurinol, and can sometimes use Uloric.  Just having another option for those select patients who cannot use allopurinol is really a big benefit.

Gout is caused by the precipitation of uric acid crystals in joints causing an acute inflammatory arthritis of the affected joints.  Uric acid is the final breakdown product of the DNA building blocks called purines.  Our bodies are constantly breaking down the components of dying cells and making new cells.  As the DNA of these cells is metabolized the two purines, guanine and cytosine, go through a series of steps to allow our bodies to get rid of them.  In this breakdown of purines into metabolites that the body can excrete in the urine the enzyme xanthine oxidase facilitates the conversion of xanthine into uric acid.  Both allopurinol and Uloric are competitive inhibitors of xanthine oxidase and prevent the conversion of xanthine into uric acid.  By reducing the serum concentrations of uric acid the gout attacks can be prevented.

You can find a lot of advice on how to prevent gout by diet.  Gout is primarily a disease of the developed world and a result of eating a diet too rich in protein.  Demographically this is true, but there is not a lot of data to give us confidence that diet modification will prevent attacks of gout in patients who have already had a prior attack of gout.  It is rarely easy to change habits, whether diet, exercise or anything else, and for a lifelong condition like gout changing diet enough to prevent gout attacks in patients predisposed to gout.  Almost all patients who have recurrent acute gout attacks need medication to prevent further episodes.

There are reasons Uloric may be a better choice for select patients over allopurinol. Uloric is metabolized by the liver in addition to being excreted by the kidney.  This allows safe use of Uloric in patients with reduced renal function.  Allopurinol is exclusively excreted in the urine and use in patients with moderate to severe renal dysfunction needs especial caution.  Uloric with its dual metabolism can be used in patients with more significant renal disease.

In the unusual patient who continues to have gout attacks despite taking allopurinol at the highest tolerable dose Uloric at the higher dose of 80 mg may reduce uric acid levels to a greater degree and be more effective at preventing attacks of gout than allopurinol.  Data presented by the manufacturer states that 70% of patients taking Uloric 80 mg daily will achieve uric acid levels <6mg/dl vs. only 40% of patients taking allopurinol 300 mg daily.  I’m not sure how significant this advertised benefit is in patient management.   In my experience it is unusual for patients who can take allopurinol 300 mg daily to continue to have recurrent gout attacks, and so the much bigger issue is allopurinol allergy.  When a patient seems not to respond to allopurinol therapy I’d first discuss remembering to take the medication  before I jumped to the more expensive Uloric in the case of individual treatment failures with allopurinol.

In summary Uloric gives us an effective treatment for patients with gout who have an allergy to allopurinol or other allopurinol side effects, who have reduced renal function and cannot use allopurinol, or who have failed allopurinol therapy and need the higher efficacy of Uloric a lower serum uric acid level than they can achieve with allopurinol in order to avoid recurrent acute attacks of gout.

 

 

17 Responses to Uloric: When to Consider Uloric vs Allopurinol for Gout

  1. uric acid 10.7 just had blood test I havnt eatin meat for 120 days that didn’t help a bit bac to uloric I I have topical gout bad in my hands

  2. My 75 y/o relative’s first gout attack was in 2000 after extended use of Hydrochlorothiazide (diuretic, now has allergic sensitivity) and so far, even with significant changes in diet* neither Allopurinol or Cholchicine (sp) have helped…partly because for recent heart issues (2014), she’s now on another diuretic (Furosemide) and except for how the ACEi (Lisnopril) is working on her kidneys to lower BP, there is no overt kidney dysfunction. *Since she lives PT in LA, has had to give up former favorite of wild caught Gulf shrimp.

    Then, via our visit this week (Oct 2016) with a first-ever Rheumatologist, this MD has suggested “the newer, more costly drug: Uloric” might be helpful. However since my relative also has ‘Fatty Liver’ (NAFL) diagnosis and your detail reveals Uloric is metabolized in the Liver, what do you think about any potential for contraindication here? Thanks kindly.

  3. I have been taking Uloric to help prevent kidney stones
    Just changed jobs and my company Rx plan does not cover Uloric as it did before
    I have to pay $75.00 per script for a 30 day supply
    Is there a generic equivalent that would work just as well?
    Thanks,
    Bob

  4. At present time my gfr is 37. It has been in this range for past year. My creatinine has been averaging
    Just around 1.0. No other urinary problems. My BUN is 17.Is there any contraindications uloric if on warfarin?

  5. rh: I’d check with your pharmacist but I don’t believe adding allopurinol to Uloric will accomplish much. I find nothing about the safety of duplicate use. DrP.

  6. Aaron: I believe Urinorm is narcaricin, not allopurinol. It is to my understanding not available by prescription in the US. This is just from a google search. DrP.

  7. I just came back from Japan where I was treated with “Urinorm” to lower my uric acid.
    I have no Gout symptoms

    Is alopurinol the same as Urinorm. since Urinorm under that name is not available in the US. If not what would be the exact American equivalent, sunce the Urinorm did a great job in bringing my Uric acid levels down?

  8. Robert: Not sure what your question regards. Is it possible you had pain all over from gout that responded to uloric? Yes it’s possible. Is it possible you have rheumatoid arthritis. Yes also. These are questions for your rheumatologist. Good luck. DrP.

  9. I took uloric for a year and it did a great job . I had to switch to allapurinoll because of cost . well it seamed like I eventually had gout everywhere. In my back neck hands and feet . had anyone else ever experienced this I went back to uloric and in 6 months I’m better . I was in so much pain my rheumatoid doc thought I had rheumatoid arthritis . is this possible .

  10. Hi I have acute gout attacks for the last 5 months. I am taken 400mg of Allopurinol (with no side effects) as well as I started 80mg of Uloric. I have up the dose Uloric to 160mg… I still have gout attacks..(not as bad) but when I get an attack I cant seem to get rid of it unless I use Prednisone and it works fast 8 to 12 hrs..My doctor does not want to use this any longer due to a increase of elevated blood sugars. The price of the Uloric is a hard pill to swallow… To expensive to use with NO results. My Question is what other options do I have???

  11. 300mg of allopurinol is a pretty small dose. You can easily go above that with FDA approval up to 800mg. In my experience, with caveats for selection bias, most patients need 450-600mg to achieve goal uric acid levels.

    The whole renal dysfunction vs. allopurinol argument is overblown and keeps doctors for adequately treating gout.

    I do agree it’s nice to have more therapies available.

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