Febuxostat

Sounds like 'feb-ux-oh-stat'

Easy-to-read medicine information about febuxostat – what it is, how to take febuxostat safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Medicine to prevent gout
  • Belongs to a group of medicines known as urate lowering therapy
  • Adenuric®

What is febuxostat?

Febuxostat is used to prevent gout attacks or flares. It is used when other medicines like allopurinol cannot be taken or haven’t worked well. Febuxostat is not a treatment for a gout flare – it does not relieve short-term pain and swelling, but you must keep taking febuxostat if you get an attack and are already taking it (see special instructions below). Febuxostat is available as tablets (80 milligrams or 120 milligrams). 

How does febuxostat work?

Febuxostat helps reduce urate levels in your blood (serum urate) and reduce gout attacks.

  • Uric acid is a normal product of your metabolism and in the blood, uric acid becomes urate.
  • When urate levels are high, crystals can form around joints causing inflammation, pain and damage. This is known as gout.
  • To reduce gout attacks, it is important to keep your serum urate level below 0.36 mmol/L.
  • When the serum urate is below 0.36mmol/L no new crystals form and crystals that are in your joints or skin can dissolve.

Read more about gout.

Dose

  • The usual dose of febuxostat is 80 milligrams once daily.
  • After 2 to 4 weeks of treatment, your doctor will test your serum urate with a blood test and if it is still above 0.36 mmol/L, your dose may increase to 120 milligrams once daily.
  • Always take your febuxostat exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much febuxostat to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

How to take febuxostat

  • Take febuxostat at the same time each day. It is best taken in the morning.
  • You can take febuxostat with or without food.
  • Keep taking febuxostat every day, to prevent gout attacks. It may take a few weeks before you notice the full benefits of febuxostat.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol; it can increase your risk of gout attacks.
  • If you forget to take your tablet, take it as soon as you remember. But, if it is nearly time for your next tablet, just take the next tablet at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
  • Do not stop taking febuxostat suddenly; speak to your doctor or nurse before stopping. Stopping febuxostat quickly can make your gout worse.

Special instructions

  • Increased gout attacks: when you start taking febuxostat, gout attacks can still happen in the first few weeks or months. When you start febuxostat, your doctor will also prescribe a low-dose non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) or colchicine for 6 months to reduce the chances of these attacks. Keep taking febuxostat every day, even during a gout attack.
  • Blood tests: when you first start taking febuxostat, you will need to have blood tests to monitor your serum urate levels and your liver.

Precautions – before taking febuxostat

  • Do you have problems with your heart such as heart failure?
  • Do you have problems with your liver, kidney’s or thyroid gland?
  • Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • Are you taking any other medicines? This includes any medicines you buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.

If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start febuxostat, or any new medicines. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, febuxostat can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Headache
  • Feeling sick or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • These are quite common when you first start taking febuxostat, and usually go away with time
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Be careful when driving or using tools until you know how this medicine affects you
  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as sudden redness of the skin, skin rashes, itching, swelling of the face, lips, or mouth, and problems breathing, such as short of breath or wheezing
  • Stop taking febuxostat
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine on 0800 611 116


  • Signs of problems with your liver such as yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, pain in the abdomen.
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine on 0800 611 116

Interactions

Febuxostat may interact with a few medications and herbal supplements, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting allopurinol or before starting any new medicines.

Learn more

Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet Adenuric

References

  1. Managing gout in primary care BPAC, 2018
  2. Febuxostat New Zealand Formulary
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 30 Apr 2018