Gout-treating drug febuxostat has been approved as the first-line therapy for patients suffering from moderate to severe kidney disease or liver cirrhosis, the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) said.
As of this month, about 20,000 current, high-risk patients can benefit from the Feburic 80mg Tablet.
Agency data show that about 672,000 to 709,000 Taiwanese sought medical attention for gout between 2008 and 2010.
In April 2012, febuxostat had only been approved for patients who had not responded well to traditional drugs for reducing uric acid production: allopurinol and benzbromarone.
The agency said the new revision allows patients with moderate and severe chronic kidney diseases, and those with liver cirrhosis, who are suffering from gout at the same time, to be administered with febuxostat as first-line therapy.
People with impaired kidney function are prone to allopurinol-induced hypersensitivity syndrome, or Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and benzbromarone is not recommended for people with known hepatic diseases, the national health agency said.
The estimated expenditure for the change would be about NT$20 million to NT$30 million (US$660,000 to US$990,000) a year, the agency added.
Gout is caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood, the occurrence of which can be genetic or determined by diet, the agency said.
The existing treatment relies mainly on drugs, supported by diet control and exercise.
The combined treatment can keep 99 percent of occurrences of gout under control and reduce the risk of complications such as hyperuricemia, acute gout attack, gouty tophi, chronic gouty arthritis or renal diseases, the agency added.