Racial/ethnic variation and risk factors for allopurinol-associated severe cutaneous adverse reactions: a cohort study

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To examine associations of race/ethnicity and purported risk factors with hospitalised allopurinol-associated severe cutaneous adverse reactions (AASCARs).


We used US Medicaid data to identify incident allopurinol users between 1999 and 2012. We examined the risk of hospitalised AASCARs according to race/ethnicity and purported key risk factors and calculated relative risks (RR).


Among 400 401 allopurinol initiators, we documented 203 hospitalised AASCAR cases (1 in 1972 initiators). The average AASCAR hospitalisation was 9.6 days and 43 individuals (21%) died. The multivariable-adjusted RRs for AASCARs among blacks, Asians and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders compared with whites or Hispanics were 3.00 (95% CI 2.18 to 4.14), 3.03 (95% CI 1.72 to 5.34) and 6.68 (95% CI 4.37 to 10.22), respectively. Female sex, older age (≥60 years), chronic kidney disease and initial allopurinol dose (>100 mg/day) were independently associated with a 2.5-fold, 1.7-fold, 2.3-fold and 1.9-fold higher risk of AASCAR, respectively. In our combined demographic analysis, older women (≥60 years) of a high-risk race/ethnicity (blacks, Asians or Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders) had over a 12-fold higher risk of hospitalised AASCARs than younger men of a low-risk race/ethnicity (whites or Hispanics) (multivariable-adjusted RR, 12.25; 95% CI 6.46 to 23.25).


This racially diverse (yet mostly white) cohort study indicates that the risk of hospitalised AASCAR is rare overall, although blacks, Asians and Native Hawaiians/Pacific-Islanders have a substantially higher risk of hospitalised AASCARs, particularly among older women. These data also support the practice of initiating allopurinol at a low dose (eg, ≤100 mg/day).

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