Catherine L. Hill, MD, University of Adelaide

Urate-lowering drugs are known to be an effective therapy for gout. Yet only half of patients who suffered two or more flares per year reported taking allopurinol, a common gout medication, according to an Australian study published in Arthritis Research & Therapy.

Gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis, and pain occurs when an abnormal buildup of uric acid in the body causes a crystal-like substance to form in the joints. The American College of Rheumatology advises that gout patients take urate-lowering drugs like allopurinol long-term to manage the disease.

Based on the study results, the guidelines are not being followed, wrote rheumatologist and lead author Catherine L. Hill, M.D. In fact, even those subjects who did use allopurinol reported frequent gout flares.

The authors concluded that urate-lowering drugs are not being adequately prescribed, use is not well-monitored and the patients themselves are discontinuing therapy early. “Gout continues to be a prevalent and poorly managed disease, despite readily available treatment,” Hill said.