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 the medicine was approved in 2009. Once the final results from the manufacturer are received, FDA will conduct a comprehensive review and will update the public with any new information.
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.
The safety trial was conducted in over 6,000 patients with gout treated with either febuxostat or allopurinol. The primary outcome was a combination of heart-related death, non-deadly heart attack, non-deadly stroke, and a condition of inadequate blood supply to the heart requiring urgent surgery. The preliminary results show that overall, febuxostat did not increase the risk of these combined events compared to allopurinol. However, when the outcomes were evaluated separately, febuxostat showed an increased risk of heart-related deaths and death from all causes.
BACKGROUND: 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.
RECOMMENDATION: Healthcare professionals should consider this safety information when deciding whether to prescribe or continue patients on febuxostat. Patients should talk to your healthcare professionals if you have any questions or concerns. Do not stop taking your medicine without first consulting with your healthcare professional.
Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA’s MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program: