Colchicine | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

colchicine, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Colcrys
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Highlights for colchicine

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Colchicine is used to prevent or treat the symptoms of gout. Gout is caused when a substance called uric acid forms painful crystals in the body, typically in the joints. This drug is also used to treat familial Mediterranean fever. This condition can cause inflammation (pain and swelling) in the joints, lungs, or abdomen (stomach area).

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Colchicine comes in the form of tablets and capsules. Both are taken by mouth.

3

Both forms of colchicine are available as generic drugs. The tablets are also available as the brand-name drug Colcrys. The capsules are also available as the brand-name drug Mitigare.

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The more common side effects of this drug include diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. These can occur when you start taking this drug, or when your doctor increases your dose.

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In some cases, colchicine can cause serious side effects. These include damage to your muscles. This risk is increased if you take this drug for 6 months or longer.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Overdose

Taking too much colchicine can be serious enough to cause death. Never take more of this drug than your doctor prescribes.

Blood disorders

Colchicine may cause your body to produce fewer blood cells of different types. This could raise your risk of infection or bleeding because some of these blood cells fight infection and help form blood clots. If you have any blood disorders, talk with your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.

Muscle damage

Colchicine can damage your muscles if you take it for 6 months or longer. Your risk is higher if you’re a senior. Taking other drugs that cause muscle damage, such as cholesterol medications, may increase this risk. Talk with your doctor before taking colchicine if you’re also taking cholesterol drugs.

Drug features

Colchicine is a prescription drug. It comes in the form of tablets and capsules. Both forms are taken by mouth.

Colchicine tablets are available as the brand-name drug Colcrys. The capsules are available as the brand-name drug Mitigare. Both forms of colchicine are also available as generic drugs. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. Talk to your doctor to see if the generic version will work for you.

Colchicine may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.

Why it’s used

Colchicine is used to treat the symptoms of gout or familial Mediterranean fever. It’s also used to prevent the symptoms of gout. Gout is caused when a substance called uric acid forms painful crystals in the body, typically in the joints.

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How it works

Colchicine belongs to a class of drugs called anti-gout medications. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

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Why it’s used

Colchicine is used to treat the symptoms of gout or familial Mediterranean fever. It’s also used to prevent the symptoms of gout. Gout is caused when a substance called uric acid forms painful crystals in the body, typically in the joints.

Familial Mediterranean fever is passed down in families. It can cause inflammation (pain and swelling) in the joints, lungs, or abdomen (stomach area).

How it works

Colchicine belongs to a class of drugs called anti-gout medications. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

The way colchicine works is not fully understood. It may prevent some of the body’s immune cells from causing pain and inflammation.

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colchicine Side Effects

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More Common Side Effects

The more common side effects of colchicine can include:

  • pain in the abdomen (stomach area)

  • constipation

  • diarrhea

  • nausea

  • vomiting

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:
  • Rhabdomyolysis (muscle damage). This serious syndrome can cause kidney disease, and can be life-threatening. Symptoms can include:

    • muscle weakness
    • muscle pain
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Colchicine doesn’t cause drowsiness.

Colchicine can cause gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. These most often occur:

  • when you start to take colchicine
  • during the first few hours after you take each dose
  • when your doctor increases your dose
Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
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colchicine May Interact with Other Medications

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Colchicine can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Food interactions

Grapefruit or grapefruit juice may make your body less able to process colchicine. This can increase levels of the drug in your body and result in more side effects. Don’t eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice if you’re taking this drug.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Drugs you should not use with colchicine

Do not take these drugs with colchicine. Doing so can cause dangerous effects in the body. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Antifungal drugs, such as ketoconazole or itraconazole.
    • Using these drugs with colchicine can result in very high levels of colchicine in your body. This raises your risk of side effects, such as severe muscle damage.
  • HIV drugs, such as indinavir, atazanavir, nelfinavir, saquinavir, or ritonavir.
    • Using these drugs with colchicine can result in very high levels of colchicine in your body. This raises your risk of side effects, such as severe muscle damage.
  • Antibiotics, such as clarithromycin or telithromycin.
    • Using these drugs with colchicine can result in very high levels of colchicine in your body. This raises your risk of side effects, such as severe muscle damage.
  • Antidepressants, such as nefazodone.
    • Using these drugs with colchicine can result in very high levels of colchicine in your body. This raises your risk of side effects, such as severe muscle damage.

Interactions that increase your risk of side effects

Taking colchicine with certain medications raises your risk of side effects from colchicine. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Cholesterol drugs, such as atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, simvastatin, fibrates, or gemfibrozil.
    • Increased side effects can include serious muscle damage. Your doctor may reduce your dosage of colchicine to avoid this.
  • Digoxin, an anti-arrhythmic drug.
    • Increased side effects can include serious muscle damage. Your doctor may reduce your dosage of colchicine to avoid this.
  • Heart drugs, such as verapamil or diltiazem.
    • Increased side effects can include stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Your doctor may reduce your dosage of colchicine to avoid these problems.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Colchicine warnings
People with kidney disease
People with kidney disease

Your kidneys clear this drug from your body. If they’re not working well, levels of this drug may build up in your body, raising your risk of side effects. To help avoid this, your doctor may lower your dose of colchicine.

People with liver disease
People with liver disease

Your liver processes this drug in your body. If it’s not working well, levels of this drug may build up in your body, raising your risk of side effects. To help avoid this, your doctor may lower your dose of colchicine.

Pregnant women
Pregnant women

Colchicine is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should only be used if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Women who are breast-feeding
Women who are breast-feeding

Colchicine may pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breast-fed.

Talk to your doctor if you breast-feed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this medication.

For seniors
For seniors

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

For children
For children

It hasn’t been established that colchicine is safe and effective in the treatment of gout in children.

When to call the doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug.

Allergies
Allergies

Colchicine can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

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How to Take colchicine (Dosage)

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All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Treatment of gout flares

Brand: Colcrys

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 0.6 mg

Brand: Mitigare

Form: oral capsule
Strengths: 0.6 mg

Generic:

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 0.6 mg
Form: oral capsule
Strengths: 0.6 mg
Adult dosage (ages 16–64 years):
  • Oral tablet (Colcrys):
    • Typical dosage: 1.2 mg taken at the first sign of a gout flare, followed by 0.6 mg one hour later.
Child dosage (ages 0–15 years):

This medication hasn’t been studied for the treatment or prevention of gout in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 16 years for these purposes.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older):

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Prevention of gout flares

Brand: Colcrys

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 0.6 mg

Brand: Mitigare

Form: oral capsule
Strengths: 0.6 mg

Generic:

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 0.6 mg
Form: oral capsule
Strengths: 0.6 mg
Adult dosage (ages 16–64 years):
  • Oral tablet (Colcrys):
    • Typical dosage: 0.6 mg taken once or twice per day.
  • Oral capsule (Mitigare):
    • Typical dosage: 0.6 mg taken once or twice per day.
Child dosage (ages 0–15 years):

This medication hasn’t been studied for the treatment or prevention of gout in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 16 years for these purposes.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older):

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Familial Mediterranean fever

Brand: Colcrys

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 0.6 mg

Brand: Mitigare

Form: oral capsule
Strengths: 0.6 mg

Generic:

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 0.6 mg
Form: oral capsule
Strengths: 0.6 mg
Adult dosage (ages 16–64 years):
  • Oral tablet (Colcrys):
    • Typical dosage: 1.2–2.4 mg taken once per day.
Child dosage (ages 12–15 years):
  • Oral tablet (Colcrys):
    • Typical dosage: 1.2–2.4 mg taken once per day.
Child dosage (ages 6–11 years):
  • Oral tablet (Colcrys):
    • Typical dosage: 0.9–1.8 mg taken once per day.
Child dosage (ages 4–5 years):
  • Oral tablet (Colcrys):
    • Typical dosage: 0.3–1.8 mg taken once per day.
Child dosage (ages 0–3years):

This medication shouldn’t be used in children younger than 3 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older):

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Colchicine comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug or don’t take it at all

The symptoms of your condition may worsen.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • muscle pain
  • muscle weakness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

  • For treatment of gout flares: You should have decreased pain, tenderness, or swelling.
  • For prevention of gout flares: Your gout glares should occur less often.
  • For treatment of familial Mediterranean fever: Your painful inflammation should be reduced.

Colchicine is used for long-term treatment of familial Mediterranean fever and prevention of gout flares .

Colchicine is used for short-term treatment of gout flares.

Colchicine warnings
You can take colchicine with or without food
You can take colchicine with or without food
Take this drug at the time(s) recommended by your doctor
Take this drug at the time(s) recommended by your doctor
You can cut or crush the tablet (Colcrys)
You can cut or crush the tablet (Colcrys)
Store this drug carefully
Store this drug carefully
See Details
A prescription for this medication is refillable
A prescription for this medication is refillable
See Details
Travel
Travel
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Clinical monitoring
Clinical monitoring
See Details
Not every pharmacy stocks this drug
Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead.
Hidden costs
Hidden costs
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Insurance
Insurance
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Store this drug carefully

  • Store colchicine at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Keep this drug away from light.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor may monitor your uric acid level. This can help make sure it’s within the range your doctor feels is best for you. It can also help your doctor know if your medication is working.

Your doctor may also check for side effects. This can help make sure you stay safe while you take this drug. Your doctor may do blood tests to check your:

  • Blood counts. Blood count tests can tell if colchicine is making your body less able to produce certain blood cells.
  • Liver and muscle function. These tests will measure your blood levels of certain products from your liver and muscles. The results can help your doctor find out if colchicine is causing damage to your liver or muscles.

Hidden costs

You may need to have certain blood tests during your treatment with colchicine. The cost of these tests depends on your insurance coverage.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor may need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

What does the pill look like?

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How Much Does colchicine Cost?

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We've partnered with GoodRx so you can compare prices, find discounts and save up to 80% on your next prescription. Check out the low coupon prices below — no insurance required.

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Lowest price for colchicine

Walgreens $76.01
Duane Reade $76.01
Walmart $99.58
These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for colchicine on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for colchicine on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on November 13, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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