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18-12-2014 | Gout | Article

Safety of allopurinol compared with other urate-lowering drugs in patients with gout: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Rheumatology International

Authors: Isabel Castrejon, Esther Toledano, María Piedad Rosario, Estíbaliz Loza, Fernando Pérez-Ruiz, Loreto Carmona

Publisher: Springer Berlin Heidelberg


Allopurinol is the most widely used urate-lowering drug (ULD). Together with efficacy and cost, safety is an aspect that helps taking clinical decisions. This systematic review analyzes allopurinol safety. The literature search was performed in MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library (January 2014). Selection criteria: (a) patients >18, (b) gout by the ACR criteria or evidence of urate crystal in synovial fluid, (c) comparator (placebo or other ULD), and (d) RCTs, cohorts, or meta-analysis. Primary outcomes: rate of adverse events and death. The quality was assessed with the Jadad’s scale. A meta-analysis with fixed effects was performed. From 544 studies, seven met the eligibility criteria and were included. All RCT presented a low power for safety. All RCTs included a mixed population of patients with gout and hyperuricemia. Allopurinol (300 mg) was compared to febuxostat (40–240 mg) in five RCTs, to benzbromarone and probenecid in two RCTs, and to placebo in one. In the RCTs comparing allopurinol with benzbromarone and probenecid, the highest discontinuation rate was with probenecid (26 %), followed by allopurinol (11 %) and benzbromarone (4 %). The incidence of adverse events was similar between allopurinol (range 38.6–85) and febuxostat (range 41.8–80). Six patients on febuxostat and three on allopurinol died during the studies; no deaths were judged related to drug. The combined risk of adverse events was RR = 1.04 (95 % CI 0.98, 1.11). Allopurinol is a safe option, slightly better than other ULDs. The grade of evidence is high, but further research is needed to evaluate higher doses and long-term safety.

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