Limitations of the Current Standards of Care for Treating Gout and Crystal Deposition in the Primary Care Setting: A Review

Robert T Keenan
Clinical Therapeutics 2017, 39 (2): 430-441

PURPOSE: This article outlines several important issues regarding the management of patients with gout. The topics discussed include best practices for gout based on the most current guidelines, opportunities for improving gout management, and current and emerging therapies for gout.

METHODS: [PubMed and Google Scholar databases] were search for all articles and trials published before 2016, using the key terms [hyperuricemia, gout, tophi, joint erosion, joint damage, treatment guidelines, American College of Rheumatology (ACR), European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), flare, comorbidity, epidemiology, adherence, serum uric acid (sUA), monosodium urate (MSU), <6 mg/dL, MSU crystal formation, as well as individual drug names and classes of treatments of interest (allopurinol, febuxostat, colchicine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)]. Studies were selected that presented data on gout treatment, including drugs under development, and on the management of gout from both the physician and patient perspectives. The reference lists of identified articles were searched manually for additional publications.

FINDINGS: Gout, a progressive debilitating form of inflammatory arthritis, is caused by factors that elevate serum uric acid (sUA) levels, leading to hyperuricemia. Continued elevated sUA can result in monosodium urate crystal deposition in joints and soft tissues, causing acute and chronic inflammation. Crystal deposition can lead to chronic gout, with an increased number of flares, tophi development, and structural joint damage. The aims of gout treatment are to reduce the sUA level to <6 mg/dL, to inhibit the formation of new crystals, and to promote the dissolution of existing crystals. Gout is often poorly managed for several reasons, including a lack of adherence to treatment guidelines by health care providers, patients' poor adherence to therapy, and differences between a provider's and patient's perspectives regarding treatment.

IMPLICATIONS: Patients need to be educated about their diagnosis and management of the disease, such as the importance of compliance with long-term treatment. Gout treatment may also confounded by contraindications to current standards of therapy and the limitations of current treatment paradigms. Recently approved medications, as well as drugs under development, may provide new ways for reaching the sUA target and also "curing" the disease.


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