Gout drug colchicine shows promise in treating Covid: Greek study

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on June 26, 2020

A recent study has put the spotlight on an age-old anti-inflammatory drug, colchicine, and its possible role in treating patients hospitalised with Covid-19 symptoms.

According to a paper published in JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) Network Open, the randomised clinical trial of 105 patients found that clinical deterioration was higher in the control group than in the colchicine group, and the time to clinical deterioration was shorter in the control group than in the colchicine group.

The hypothesis-generating findings of this study suggest a role for colchicine in the treatment of patients with Covid-19, the paper said of the study done in 16 tertiary care hospitals in Greece.

The publication comes at a time when governments and companies around the world are assessing drugs and re-purposing them for the treatment of Covid.

‘Harmless and inexpensive’

KK Aggarwal, former president of the Indian Medical Association, said colchicine is used in treating acute gout and it has a role in treating low-grade inflammation in cardiology. It is a harmless and inexpensive drug, he said, adding that it could be given in a low dose to patients with Covid.

It is given only when there are signs of inflammation, he said, including fever and rash. The study findings give doctors one more option when treating Covid, he added.

Doctors who were not using the drug pointed out that it was best to have more studies done on re-purposed medicines before including it in treatment.

Limitations of study

Pointing to the limitations of the study, an invited editorial comment, also published by the JAMA Network Open, said: “The trial’s small sample size combined with the low event rate make these data underpowered and hypothesis generating. Nonetheless, the results of the GRECCO-19 trial suggest that colchicine is safe and may improve outcomes in patients with Covid-19. These data will need to be corroborated with larger, longer-term studies.”

There are 12 ongoing trials actively recruiting patients with Covid-19 to evaluate the role of colchicine, the editorial said. “These include the large outpatient Colchicine Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COLCORONA) trial and the smaller inpatient Colchicine for the Treatment of Cardiac Injury in Hospitalised Patients with Covid-19 (COLHEART-19) trial, which will specifically evaluate the role of colchicine in patients with cardiac manifestations of the disease. For now, we congratulate Deftereos, et al for adding to our growing scientific understanding of Covid-19 and showing us that an old drug may still have new life,” the editorial said.

Published on June 26, 2020

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