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Updated April 2022
Probenecid (brand name Pro-Cid) is a medicine used to treat gout, which is a type of arthritis caused by a build up of uric acid crystals in the joints. Cells produce uric acid normally. In gout the body does not flush it out fast enough.
Probenecid works by making the kidneys flush the excess uric acid from the body. This helps prevent uric acid crystals building up in the joints and therefore helps prevent joints becoming swollen and painful.
Probenecid can also help increase the level of certain antibiotics in the blood. This helps increase the effectiveness of the antibiotics to treat an infection.
Probenecid is taken on a long-term basis to prevent attacks of gout. The treatment also helps to prevent permanent damage to the joints. It does not treat the pain or inflammation of an ‘attack’ of gout and it is not normally started during a sudden attack.
Probenecid does not work straight away. It may take several weeks to reduce the level of uric acid so you may continue to have gout attacks for some time.
Sometimes starting probenecid or increasing the dose can actually cause an attack of gout.
This does not mean the medicine is not working so keep taking it during such attacks together with any other medicine your doctor may recommend to manage the pain.
Because probenecid works on the kidneys it may not be effective if kidney function is abnormal.
Probenecid is taken by mouth as a tablet and is usually taken twice a day.
It should be taken after food to reduce stomach upset and the tablets should be swallowed whole.
It should also be taken with plenty of water. In addition you should drink a lot of water each day when you start taking probenecid and while the dose is being adjusted.
For greatest benefit probenecid should be taken regularly. To help you remember take it at the same time(s) each day. If you forget to take a dose, there is no need to double the dose at the next scheduled time.
Tablets come in 500mg strength. Treatment usually starts with a small dose such as 1/2 a tablet twice a day. It may be increased to 1 or sometimes 2 tablets twice a day with a maximum of 4 tablets a day.
Probenecid may be taken in combination with other arthritis and gout medicines including:
Treatment with probenecid is usually continued indefinitely as long as it is effective and as long as no serious side effects occur.
If you stop probenecid treatment suddenly there is a risk that your gout will get worse again. Continue with your treatment unless advised by your doctor or unless side effects develop.
Most people do not experience side effects from probenecid. Below are possible side effects that you might experience with your treatment. Tell your doctor if you experience any side effects.
Probenecid should not be taken in some blood disorders or if you have had uric acid kidney stones.
If you do experience side effects a reduction in dose may minimise these so that you can continue to take the medicine. Your doctor will advise on any dose changes that are necessary.
There are some rare but potentially serious possible side effects with probenecid.
Probenecid can be taken for long periods to manage gout. There seem to be no additional long term side effects.
Probenecid does not affect a person’s ability to have children in the long term. See also Precautions.