When probenecid (ColBENEMID) is given in sufficient amounts, it will block the active reabsorption of uric acid in the proximal tubules following its glomerular filtration, thereby increasing the amount of urate eliminated. In contrast, low dosages of probenecid appear to compete preferentially with plasma uric acid for the proximal tubule anionic transport system and thereby block its access to this active secretory system. The uricosuric action of probenecid, however, is accounted for by the drug's ability to inhibit the active reabsorption of filtered urate.

Probenecid is rapidly absorbed after oral administration, with peak plasma levels usually reached in 2 to 4 hours. Its half-life is somewhat variable (6-12 hours) because of both its extensive plasma protein binding and its active proximal tubular secretion. Since tubular backdiffusion is decreased at alkaline urinary pH ranges, probenecid excretion increases with increasing urinary pH. Probenecid is rapidly metabolized, with less than 5% of an administered dose being eliminated in 24 hours.The major metabolite is an acyl monoglucuronide.

Probenecid is an effective and relatively safe agent for controlling hyperuricemia and preventing tophi deposition in tissues. Chronic administration will decrease the incidence of acute gouty attacks as well as diminish the complications usually associated with hyper-uricemia, such as renal damage and tophi deposition. Probenecid is still used by some physicians to maintain high blood levels of penicillin, cephalosporin, acyclovir, and cyclosporine. It is not useful in treating acute attacks of gouty arthritis. If the total amount of uric acid excreted is greater than 800 mg/day, the urine should be alkalinized to prevent kidney stone formation and promote uric acid.

Probenecid can impair the renal active secretion of a variety of acidic compounds, including sulfinpyrazone, sulfonylureas, indomethacin, penicillin, sulfonamides, and 17-ketosteroids. If these agents are to be given con-comitantly with probenecid, their dosage should be modified appropriately. Salicylates interfere with the clinical effects of both sulfinpyrazone and probenecid and should be avoided in patients treated with uricosuric agents. Uricosuric agents also can influence the volume of distribution and hepatic metabolism of a number of drugs.

Adverse reactions associated with probenecid therapy include occasional rashes, allergic dermatitis, upper gastrointestinal tract irritation, and drowsiness. The drug is contraindicated in patients with a history of renal calculi.

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