New research suggests that Zyloprim (allopurinol), a drug prescribed to treat gout and kidney stones, is linked to Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS), a rare but serious skin reaction.
Zyloprim is a medication used to treat chronic gout, a condition that causes high levels of uric acid in the blood, known as hyperuricemia, Top Class Actions reports. The drug is sometimes prescribed to prevent a rise uric acid levels due to chemotherapy treatment.
Zyloprim belongs to a class of medications known as xanthine oxidase inhibitors. These drugs restrict the activity of the enzyme xanthine oxidase in order to reduce the body’s uric acid production.
Zyloprim has been associated with Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS), a rare but extremely dangerous skin reaction that has effects similar to those of a severe burn. According to the Mayo Clinic, SJS often begins with flu-like symptoms, followed by a painful red or purplish rash that spreads. Blisters form within the rash areas, and the outer layer of skin peels away. When the affected skin peels, it exposes underlying tissues to potential infection and further compounds the danger of the condition. If Stevens-Johnson syndrome affects more than 30 percent of the body’s skin, it is then considered to be toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), a more dangerous condition.
SJS/TEN patients are often treated in a hospital burn unit, which has the expertise to deal with extensive skin damage. Some patients need skin grafts to replace areas of lost skin. SJS can also affects the eyes, causing scarring inside the eyelids and damage to the corneas.
Treatment for SJS focuses on eliminating the underlying cause, controlling symptoms, avoiding infection, and minimizing complications. If SJS is associated with a drug, the individual must permanently avoid taking that study.Recovery can take weeks or months. Some people recover with little or not permanent damage but others suffer scarring, disfigurement, and organ damage.
SJS has linked to a number of drugs including antibiotics and pain relieving medications. SJS has been associated with fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Cipro and Avelox and the epilepsy drugs Dilantin and Lamictal. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) have also been linked to SJS/TEN. Viral infections like herpes, HIV, and hepatitis and a weakened immune system can increase the risk of SJS.
A new study in the American Journal of Medicine suggests that SJS may be a more frequent side effect with Zyloprim than with other drugs. A Canadian research team studied patients with SJS or TEN over a ten-year period to determine common catalysts for the condition. The researchers found that Zyloprim was the single most common medication taken by patients admitted to Vancouver General with SJS. Approximately 20 percent of all SJS/TEN cases in that period were linked to Zyloprim usage.
The researchers also found that the SJS risk was, in part, race-specific. Patients of Chinese origin had a 47 percent mortality risk from Zyloprim-induced SJS percent, while Caucasian patients showed a mortality risk of 14 percent. A 2008 multinational study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed that in both Europe and Israel, Zyloprim users constituted about 18 percent of all SJS and TEN cases.