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Colchicine, Oral Tablet

Highlights for colchicine

  1. Colchicine oral tablet is available as both a generic and brand-name drug. Brand name Colcrys.
  2. It also comes in capsules that are also available as both a generic and brand-name drug. Brand name: Mitigare.
  3. 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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Important warnings

Important warnings

  • Overdose warning: Taking too much colchicine can be serious enough to cause death. Never take more of this drug than your doctor prescribes.
  • Blood disorders warning: 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 warning: 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.

About

What is colchicine?

Colchicineoral oral tablet is a prescription drug that’s available as the brand-name drug Colcrys. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version.

Colchicine is also available in capsules. The capsules are available as the brand-name drug Mitigare. The capsules are also available as generic drugs.

Why it's used

Colchicine is used to treat the symptoms of gout or familial Mediterranean fever. Familial Mediterranean fever is passed down in families. It can cause inflammation (pain and swelling) in the joints, lungs, or abdomen (stomach area).

Colchicine is 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.

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

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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Side effects

Colchicine side effects

Colchicine oral tablet doesn’t cause drowsiness. However, it may cause other side effects.

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 911 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

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.

Interactions

Colchicine may interact with other medications

Colchicine oral tablet 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.

Drugs you should not use with colchicine

Taking certain drugs with colchicine can cause dangerous effects in the body. Examples of drugs you should not use with colchicine 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 antiarrhythmic 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.

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Other warnings

Colchicine warnings

Colchicine oral tablet comes with several warnings.

Allergy warning

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 911 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).

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.

Warnings for people with certain health conditions

For 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.

For 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.

Warnings for other groups

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

For women who are breastfeeding: Colchicine may pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breastfed. Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.

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

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Dosage

How to take colchicine

This dosage information is for colchicine oral tablet. 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

Forms and strengths

Brand: Colcrys

  • Form: oral tablet
  • Strengths: 0.6 mg

Brand: Mitigare

  • Form: oral capsule
  • Strengths: 0.6 mg

Generic: colchicine

  • Form: oral tablet
  • Strengths: 0.6 mg
  • Form: oral capsule
  • Strengths: 0.6 mg

Dosage for the treatment of gout flares

Adult dosage (ages 16–64 years):

Oral tablet (Colcrys). Typical dosage is 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.

Dosage for prevention of gout flares

Adult dosage (ages 16–64 years):

  • Oral tablet (Colcrys): Typical dosage is 0.6 mg, taken once or twice per day.
  • Oral capsule (Mitigare): Typical dosage is 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.

Dosage for familial Mediterranean fever

Adult dosage (ages 16–64 years):

Oral tablet (Colcrys): Typical dosage is 1.2–2.4 mg taken once per day.

Child dosage (ages 12–15 years):

Oral tablet (Colcrys): Typical dosage is 1.2–2.4 mg taken once per day.

Child dosage (ages 6–11 years):

Oral tablet (Colcrys): Typical dosage is 0.9–1.8 mg taken once per day.

Child dosage (ages 4–5 years):

Oral tablet (Colcrys): Typical dosage is 0.3–1.8 mg, taken once per day.

Child dosage (ages 0–3 years):

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.

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Take as directed

Take as directed

Colchicine oral tablet is used for long-term treatment of familial Mediterranean fever and prevention of gout flares. It is used for short-term treatment of gout flares. It comes with 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 911 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 flares should occur less often.
  • For treatment of familial Mediterranean fever: Your painful inflammation should be reduced.

Important considerations

Important considerations for taking colchicine

Keep these considerations in mind if your doctor prescribes colchicine oral tablets for you.

General

  • You can take colchicine with or without food.
  • Take this drug at the time(s) recommended by your doctor.
  • You can cut or crush the tablet (Colcrys).
  • Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead.

Storage

  • 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.

Refills

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.

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Alternatives

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.

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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