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Drug Profile

The information on this site is intended to supplement and enhance, not replace, the advice of a physician who is familiar with your medical history. Decisions about your health should always be made ONLY after detailed conversation with your doctor.

Generic drug name: colchicine (KOL chi seen)
Brand name(s): COLCRYS, GLOPERBA, MITIGARE
GENERIC: available FAMILY: Drugs for Arthritis and Gout
Find the drug label by searching at DailyMed.

Pregnancy and Breast-feeding Warnings [top]

Pregnancy Warning

Colchicine caused fetal malformations in animal studies. Because of the potential for serious adverse effects, this drug should not be used by pregnant women.

Breast-feeding Warning

No information is available from either human or animal studies. However, it is likely that this drug, like many others, is excreted in human milk and, because of the potential for adverse effects in nursing infants, you should not take this drug while nursing.

Facts About This Drug [top]

Colchicine (COLCRYS) prevents and treats gout attacks, reduces inflammation and relieves pain from acute gouty arthritis.

Gout occurs in people who have high levels of uric acid in their bodies, and an attack occurs when crystals of uric acid form in the joints and the body responds by releasing harmful chemicals. This causes pain and inflammation. Colchicine prevents and treats attacks by decreasing the amount of inflammatory chemicals that your body releases into the joints. It does not...

Colchicine (COLCRYS) prevents and treats gout attacks, reduces inflammation and relieves pain from acute gouty arthritis.

Gout occurs in people who have high levels of uric acid in their bodies, and an attack occurs when crystals of uric acid form in the joints and the body responds by releasing harmful chemicals. This causes pain and inflammation. Colchicine prevents and treats attacks by decreasing the amount of inflammatory chemicals that your body releases into the joints. It does not lower the level of uric acid in your body, which is the root cause of the problem.

Side effects

Colchicine has several harmful side effects (see "Adverse Effects" section of this page), and patients may be better off taking large doses of an anti-inflammatory drug such as naproxen (ALEVE, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug; see "NSAIDs" section in "Salicylates and Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs"), which has fewer harmful effects.

Stop taking colchicine and call your doctor immediately if you have diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain. Older adults are more susceptible to colchicine’s side effects.

If you have decreased kidney function, you should be on a low dose of colchicine in order to reduce adverse effects such as muscle and nerve damage.

The Australian Adverse Drug Reactions Bulletin reports cases of blood dyscrasias such as neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, pancytopenia, leukopenia, agranulocytosis and sepsis. The bulletin has also reported extensive, severe maculopapular rash associated with colchicine use. Colchicine should be used with caution, due to severe drug interactions and side effects.[1]

An article published in Prescrire International in March 2011 looked at the risk factors associated with colchicine use. Reports from the French pharmacovigilance database found the following risk serious or life-threatening factors: age over 75, renal failure, liver failure and drug.[2]

This is one of a limited number of drugs for which the FDA requires an FDA-approved Medication Guide to be dispensed when the prescription is filled or refilled. An FDA advisory committee has unanimously recommended that all prescription drugs be accompanied by such Medication Guides, but at present, less than 5 percent of drugs are. The other 95 percent of drugs are accompanied by unregulated, often dangerously incomplete, information leaflets not approved by the FDA.[3]

Before You Use This Drug [top]

Do not use if you have or have had:

  • liver or kidney disease
  • pregnancy or are breast-feeding

Tell your doctor if you have or have had:

  • allergy to colchicine
  • alcohol abuse
  • bone marrow depression, or blood cell diseases
  • heart, kidney, or liver problems
  • severe intestinal disease
  • ulcer or other stomach problem

Tell your doctor about any other drugs you take, including aspirin, herbs, vitamins, and other nonprescription products.

When You Use This Drug [top]

  • Do not take more than prescribed, even if the pain is not relieved or if you do not experience adverse effects.
  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol increases the amount of uric acid in your blood and may make your gout attacks more frequent or more difficult to control. It also increases the likelihood of stomach problems.

How to Use This Drug [top]

  • If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember, but skip it if it is almost time for the next dose. Do not take double doses.
  • Do not share your medication with others.
  • Take the drug at the same time(s) each day.
  • If you take other drugs to prevent gout attacks and your doctor prescribes colchicine when you have an attack, keep taking the other drugs as directed by your doctor.
  • If you take colchicine only when you have an attack, take it at the first sign of attack. Stop taking it as soon as pain is relieved or at first sign of diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain. Do not take it more often than every three days, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
  • If you take colchicine regularly to prevent attacks, do not increase your dose during an acute attack unless directed by your doctor. If your doctor increases your dose during an attack, return to your regular dose after the attack is over.
  • Store at room temperature with lid on tightly. Do not store in the bathroom. Do not expose to heat, moisture, or strong light. Keep out of reach of children.

Interactions with Other Drugs [top]

Some other drugs that you may be taking (either over-the-counter or prescription) can interact with this one, causing adverse effects. Ask your doctor what these drugs are and let him or her know if you are taking any of them.

Such interacting drugs are: cyclosporine, grapefruit juice, SANDIMMUNE.

Adverse Effects [top]

Call your doctor immediately if you experience:

  • numbness or tingling in fingers or toes
  • skin rash or hives
  • huge, hive-like swellings on face, eyelids, mouth, lips, and/or tongue
  • sore throat
  • fever with or without chills
  • sores, ulcers, white spots on lips or in mouth
  • headache
  • difficulty breathing
  • tarry stools
  • blood in urine
  • pinpoint red spots on skin
  • muscle weakness
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

Call your doctor if these symptoms continue:

  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhea
  • nausea or vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • unusual hair loss

Signs of overdose:

  • bloody urine
  • burning feeling in stomach throat, or skin
  • seizures
  • bloody diarrhea
  • fever
  • mood or mental changes
  • severe muscle weakness
  • sudden decrease in amount of urine
  • difficulty breathing
  • severe vomiting
  • hair loss
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on lips or in mouth

If you suspect an overdose, call this number to contact your poison control center: (800) 222-1222.

Periodic Tests[top]

Ask your doctor which of these tests should be done periodically while you are taking this drug:

  • complete blood count

last reviewed February 28, 2021