Auranofin (triethylphosphine gold), an oral gold preparation, has recently been made available, and along with injectable gold preparations, is of therapeutic value for rheumatoid arthritis. Serious gold toxicity is uncommon, and drug-related deaths rare. Many potential adverse reactions are similar, including dermatitis, stomatitis, thrombocytopenia, leucopenia, and proteinuria, generally with increased incidence in the injectable gold-treated patients. Oral gold is associated with benign lower gastrointestinal side effects, including diarrhoea, loose stools and abdominal cramps that are often dose-related and resolve spontaneously. The incidence of severe reactions such as thrombocytopenia, aplastic anaemia and exfoliative dermatitis is lower with oral gold than injectable preparations, and contributes to a superior risk-benefit ratio. The treatment of gold toxicity depends on the type and extent of organ involvement.
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