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Is Gold Commonly Or Rarely Used To Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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Updated August 01, 2008

Question: Is Gold Commonly Or Rarely Used To Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Harvard researchers report to have a new understanding of how gold works. Is gold still used to treat rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune conditions? What is important for patients to know about gold?
Answer:

Gold Shots - The Old Standard

Gold shots were in the past the standard of care in treating moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis. As newer treatments have become available with superior benefit and less risk, gold injections are rarely initiated in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Gold Injections Caused Remission In Some Patients

On the other hand, there is evidence that gold injections have placed some patients into permanent remission. As a result, if a patient has gotten a good response to gold injections, they are typically continued. Stopping the gold in these patients may trigger a recurrence of arthritis activity which may not respond to resumption of therapy with gold.

Gold Has Become Less Available

Unfortunately, as gold shots have become less utilized in treatment, companies have stopped making the medication. Previously there were two formulations of gold, Solganol and Myochrysine. Only Myochrysine is now available and often patients will develop a reaction to this formulation making it unacceptable to continue treatment.

How Is Gold Administered?

If prescribed, gold shots are given intramuscularly in the office weekly for the first 20 weeks of treatment and then the frequency is tapered to every 3 - 4 weeks. A blood count and urine test are recommended before each gold shot to make sure it is safe to give.

Oral Gold Compared To Injectable Gold

Oral gold unfortunately had only minimal benefit in treatment so it was uncommonly prescribed. Ridaura is the oral gold preparation. As far as I know, it is still available but rarely used here in the U.S.

Related Resources

  • Injectable Gold
  • Ridaura (Auranofin)
  • DMARDs (Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs)
  • Arthritis Medications - Test Your Knowledge
  • Answer provided by Scott J. Zashin, M.D., clinical assistant professor at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Division of Rheumatology, in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Zashin is also an attending physician at Presbyterian Hospitals of Dallas and Plano. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Rheumatology and a member of the American Medical Association. Dr. Zashin is author of Arthritis Without Pain - The Miracle Of Anti-TNF Blockers. The book is a must-have for anyone on one of the biologic drugs (Enbrel, Remicade, Humira) or considering the biologic drugs. Read my review of the book.

    Source: Harvard Medical School Researchers Discover How Gold and Other Medicinal Metals in its Class Function Against Rheumatoid Arthritis and other Autoimmune Diseases, HMS Press Release, February 26, 2006

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