Healthy Living

What Is Colchicine?

What Is Colchicine?

Generic Name: Colchicine

Brand Name: Colcrys

What is colchicine?

Colchicine is an oral medication, which is available as a generic and brand-name drug. Colchicine is a prescription drug. The generic form of this drug is usually less expensive than the branded ones. In certain cases, the generic ones may not be available in all of its strength or form as compared to the branded version.

Colchicine is used for the treatment of gout symptoms or attacks of familial Mediterranean fever. Familial Mediterranean fever is hereditary but noninfectious. It leads to a lot of pain and inflammation along with swelling in the lungs, joints, and abdominal region.

Colchicine is also used to prevent the symptoms of gout. Gout is a medical condition that occurs when uric acid crystals are formed and deposited in the joints. Colchicine can be used alone as a treatment or used as part of a combination therapy, which means taking colchicine along with other medications.

How does colchicine work?

Colchicine is an anti-gout agent. It works by minimizing the buildup of uric acid crystals, which cause joint pain.

Precautions

Before taking colchicine, inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:

  • Allergies - Colchicine may contain ingredients that can trigger allergic reactions or other health problems. If you are allergic to any drugs, foods, or substances, then it is important to inform your doctor. Let the doctor know of the allergic signs you usually experience such as hives, itching, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and swelling of the lips, face, throat or tongue.
  • Certain Medical Conditions - If you have other health problems such as kidney issues or liver disease. Taking medications for kidney and liver problems may cause certain side effects. Let your doctor know about other medications you are taking to avoid drug interactions.
  • Taking Other Medications - These include over-the-counter or prescription drugs, vitamins, herbal medicine, or dietary supplements. 

Other Precautions

  • Avoid consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice, since it may unnecessarily increase the absorption of colchicine in your body.
  • Colchicine has the potential of causing negative effects to the bone marrow. It becomes difficult for the bone marrow to make blood cells, leading to an increased risk of bleeding or infection. 
  • More side effects may be experienced by the elderly. 
  • Deadly cases of colchicine overdose have been reported. Always keep this medicine away from children. If you are taking this drug, avoid taking more than the required dosage or in smaller doses. Seek immediate medical attention in case of an accidental overdose. 
  • Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or planning to conceive. The doctor would let you know about the pros and cons of taking this medicine.
  • Colchicine can pass into breast milk. Inform your doctor if you are breastfeeding to know any potential risks to the baby.

Usage

Always follow your doctor's prescription instructions. The form of the drug and its dosage would be completely dependent on your age, the severity of your condition, other medical conditions, and how your body responds to the initial treatment. Colchicine can be taken with or without food.

If you missed a dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is time for the next dose, then skip the missed dose and follow the usual dosing. Do not take two doses at the same time. For gout attacks, it is better to take this medicine on an as-needed basis.

Store this medicine at room temperature and in a dry place. Keep it away from sunlight, heat, and moisture. This medication should not be shared with other individuals. Consult your doctor before starting on new medications to prevent drug interactions.

Forms, Strength, and Dosage

  • Colcrys - Available as an oral tablet in the strength of 0.6 mg.
  • Mitigare - Available as an oral capsule in the strength of 0.6 mg.

The generic form of colchicine is available in tablet and capsule forms and are in the strength of 0.6 mg.

Dosage for Adults

Individuals who are 16 to 64 years old can take the oral colchicine tablets with the typical dosage of 1.2 mg. This dose should be taken at the first sign of gout flare. After an hour, another 0.6 mg dose can be taken.

Dosage for Children

Colchicine has not been studied when it comes to the prevention and treatment of gout among children. For this reason, this drug is not recommended for individuals younger than 16 years old.

Dosage for the Elderly

Older people may have lesser kidney function than younger ones. It takes more time to process the drugs in the body, which raises the risk of drug side effects since the drug stays in the body for a longer duration.

Dosage for Gout Prevention

For prevention of gout flares, adults between the age of 16 to 64 years old can take oral colchicine tablets and capsules of 0.6 mg once or twice a day. 

Dosage for Familial Mediterranean Fever

  • Age 16 to 64 years old: 1.2 mg to 2.4 mg once a day
  • Age 12 to 15 years old: 1.2 mg to 2.4 mg once a day
  • Age 6 to 11 years old: 0.9 mg to 1.8 mg once a day
  • Age 4 to 5 years old: 0.3 mg to 1.8 mg once a day

Serious Side Effects

Let the doctor know if you experience any of the following serious side effects:

  • Vomiting or an upset stomach
  • Numbness and tingling sensations in the feet or hands
  • Pale skin
  • Painful abdomen
  • Diarrhea or loose stools
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding 
  • Allergic reactions such as hives, difficulty in breathing, rashes, itching, blisters, skin peeling, wheezing, and swelling of the lips, mouth, face, throat or tongue
  • General body weakness
  • Infection symptoms such as chills, sinus pain, fever, mouth sores, color change in the sputum, coughing, painful urination, and wounds that take longer to heal or wounds that do not heal at all.
  • Muscle problems, which can lead to kidney problems. 

Drug Interactions

Colchicine causes drug interactions when taken along with certain medications, vitamins, or herbs. A drug interaction happens when any kind of substance changes the way the medicine should ideally work. Such changes can cause certain harmful side effects. Thus, to avoid drug interactions, list down any type of medications you are taking before starting off with the colchicine treatment. Avoid the following drugs if you are taking colchicine:

  • HIV Medications - Atazanavir, ritonavir, indinavir, saquinavir, or nelfinavir. Taking these drugs along with colchicine can lead to higher levels of colchicine in the body, which would lead to an increased risk of side effects such as severe muscle damage.
  • Antidepressants - When nefazodone is taken along with colchicine, it can again lead to a rise in the levels of colchicine in the body. 
  • Antifungal Drugs - Itraconazole or ketoconazole
  • Antibiotics - Telithromycin or clarithromycin 
  • Antiarrhythmics - Digoxin 
  • Cholesterol Drugs - Fluvastatin, simvastatin, gemfibrozil, atorvastatin, pravastatin or fibrates

Key Takeaways

  • Colchicine is used for the treatment of gout symptoms or attacks of familial Mediterranean fever.
  • As an anti-gout agent, it works by minimizing the buildup of uric acid crystals, which cause joint pain.
  • Colchicine causes drug interactions when taken along with certain medications, vitamins, or herbs.