The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting the public that preliminary results from a safety clinical trial show an increased risk of heart-related death with febuxostat (Uloric) compared to another gout medicine called allopurinol. FDA required the Uloric drug manufacturer, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, to conduct this safety study when they approved the medicine in 2009. Once the FDA receive the final results from the manufacturer, they will conduct a comprehensive review and will update the public with any new information.
Febuxostat is FDA-approved to treat a type of arthritis called gout in adults. Gout happens when a naturally occurring substance in the body called uric acid builds up and causes sudden attacks of redness, swelling, and pain in one or more joints. Febuxostat works by lowering uric acid levels in the blood.
The febuxostat drug labels already carry a warning and precaution about cardiovascular events because the clinical trials conducted before approval showed a higher rate of heart-related problems in patients treated with febuxostat compared to allopurinol. These problems included heart attacks, strokes, and heart-related deaths. As a result, FDA required an additional safety clinical trial after the drug was approved and on the market to better understand these differences, and that trial was finished recently.
FDA is continuing to evaluate this safety issue and will update the public when they have more information.