For the first time in 40 years, the Food and Drug Administration s approved a new drug to treat gout.

Febuxostat (Uloric) works by reducing levels of uric acid in the body.

When uric acid builds up, it can turn into needle-like crystals that deposit in the joints, causing intense pain.

The current gold-standard drug to treat gout, allopurinol, also helps to reduce uric acid levels, but serious side effects – including potentially fatal reactions – limit the amount of allopurinol that most patients can tolerate. For that reason, many who live with gout don’t get optimal doses of this drug.

In clinical trials, an 80 milligram dose of febuxostat worked better than allopurinol, while a 40 milligram dose worked at least as well as the older drug.

Febuxostat also seems to be less taxing on the kidneys than allopurinol, making it safer for patients with kidney problems.

Gout is the most common inflammatory arthritis in men older than age 40.