Skip to main content

Clinical pharmacology of gold


Since the dawn of civilization, elemental gold and gold compounds have been revered and utilized by Shamen and medical practitioners alike for many varied pathological problems. In the 20th century following the observations of Jacques Forestier, injectable gold compounds were successfully used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Of the many compounds developed, gold sodium thiomalate has been the most extensively studied by basic scientists and by clinicians. In the1980s, the oral gold compound auranofin showed promise as a therapeutic contender to injectable gold, but the clinical side effect profile and fear of long term effects of immune suppression by auranofin, resulted in gold sodium thiomalate continuing as the preferred gold compound for rheumatoid treatment. However, the increased use and demonstration of effectiveness of low dose Methotrexate (MTX) in rheumatoid treatment over the last 20 years has resulted in a significant decline in the use of injectable gold sodium thiomalate, this despite the claims and evidence that it remains a useful agent in the management of rheumatoid arthritis. Several authors still contend that the injectable gold compounds can still play a valuable role, and indeed may be the correct first choice in the management of rheumatoid arthritis.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to W. F. Kean.

Additional information

Received 4 July 2007; revised 14 October 2007; accepted 14 October 2007

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kean, W.F., Kean, I.R.L. Clinical pharmacology of gold. Inflammopharmacol 16, 112–125 (2008).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: