Everything We Currently Know about Colchicine, a New Hopeful Virus Treatment

Have you seen the headlines about colchicine, a common and affordable gout medication? Colchicine is the latest in a long list of drugs—including ivermectin, fluvoxamine, tocilizumab, and sarilumab—being investigated as a treatment for COVID-19. 

The news started just over the weekend when The Montreal Heart Institute (MIH) in Canada issued a press release that said a study of colchicine shows the medication may reduce the rate of hospitalization and death in COVID-19 patients. However, other medical experts remain skeptical until the full study is released. 

This situation is likely to evolve as more information is made available. To keep you in the loop, our pharmacists have broken down everything we know so far about colchicine and COVID-19. 

What is colchicine? 

Colchicine (brand-name Colcrys) is a generic prescription medicine used to prevent and treat gout attacks in adults. Gout is a form of arthritis that can cause sudden, severe pain in your joints. It comes as a tablet and solution that is taken by mouth, usually once or twice a day. 

What’s the research say about colchicine and COVID-19?

On January 22, 2021, the MIH announced preliminary results of the COLCORONA clinical trial that showed a 21% reduction in the risk of death or hospitalization in COVID-19 patients. This was a global study with 4,488 patients. Of the 4,159 participants who tested positive with COVID-19, the use of colchicine reduced hospitalizations by 25%, mechanical ventilation use by 50%, and deaths by 44%. The COLCORONA trial was funded by a variety of governments and philanthropic organizations, including the government of Quebec, the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The MIH study suggests that colchicine may be a good option for preventing severe cases of COVID-19 from developing. However, much is still unknown regarding the study. Many scientists remain skeptical since they only have the summary results presented in the press release. The full study will need to be evaluated more closely when released, and more research is likely needed before medical experts can be certain about the use of colchicine in COVID-19 cases. 

What are the side effects of colchicine? 

Colchicine is a popular generic medication with relatively manageable side effects. Common ones include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and pain. 

Should I take colchicine to prevent COVID-19? 

As of now, no. While promising, the research on colchicine and COVID-19 is in such an early stage that it is not recommended to take this medication unless a doctor has prescribed it to you for its official use as a gout drug. 

How much does colchicine cost? Colchicine is a relatively affordable generic medication. A month’s supply only costs $48.00.

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Dr. James Kim

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