Colcrys (Colchicine) is a medication used to prevent and treat attacks of gout. It is an alternative to Non-Steroidal-Anti-Inflammatory-Drugs (NSAIDs).
Colcrys is available as 0.6 mg oral tablets. The number of tablets to takes varies based on a doctor’s prescription. Tablets are usually taken either once or twice every day.
Important Tests and Risks
It is important for patients taking Colcrys to have their blood tested occasionally to monitor blood counts and watch out for rare but possible side effects.
Some medicines are not safe to take while taking Colcrys, including common antbiotic and antifungal medications.
Patients should make sure their doctor and pharmacist knows all of the medications and any supplements that they are taking.
Some examples of medications that are not safe to take with Colcrys are: clarithromycin, cyclosporine, itraconazole, ketoconazole, telithromycin, nefazodone, and HIV protease inhibitors.
It is known that drinking alcohol can flare gout and make it worse. It is best for patients with gout to avoid alcohol completely.
How Colcrys Works
Colcrys (colchicine) is a toxic natural product that was originally extracted from plants of the genus Colchicum, which includes certain types of flowers.
Colcrys works by binding to a protein called tubulin which is important for mitosis, the process by which cells divide and multiply.
In binding to tubulin, Colcrys prevents a process called microtubule polymerization and prevents cells from multiplying. It is known as a mitotic poison or spindle poison.
White blood cells are part of the body’s immune system that travel to inflamed areas and play a role in the symptoms of gout. They are a type of rapidly dividing cell, and their numbers are reduced in patients who take Colcrys. This helps break the cycle of inflammation by decreasing the swelling and pain associated with an attack of gout.
An attack (or flare) of gout happens when uric acid forms crystals that painfully deposit in joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues. People with gout experience symptoms when their immune system attacks these crystals.
The most common side effect of Colcrys is diarrhea. This can get better by lowering the dose, so patients should talk to their doctor if this side effect is a problem.
Other possible side effects of Colcrys include:
- Nausea & vomiting – Colcrys can upset the stomach causing nausea and vomiting.
- Muscles – When used for long periods of time, Colcrys can affect the muscles. Patients should let their doctor know if they feel muscle pain or weakness while taking Colcrys.
- Drug Interaction – Some medicines are not safe to take while taking Colcrys including common antbiotic and antifungal medications. Patients should confirm all medications they are taking with their doctor and pharmacist.
Patients should talk to their doctor if they are concerned about any of the above side effects.
Drinking grapefruit juice while taking Colcrys is not recommended as it could increase the risk of side effects.
Colcrys can be safely stopped without needing to be weaned off. Patients should advise their doctor if they stop taking this medicine.
Colcrys has not been studied for safety in pregnancy. Patients should let their doctor know if they are planning to get pregnant or if they are breastfeeding.
Who Should NOT Take Colcrys
Patients who should NOT be taking Colcrys include:
- Patients who have had a previous reaction to Colcrys
- Patients taking medicines that might interact with Colcrys. These include clarithromycin, cyclosporine, itraconazole, ketoconazole, telithromycin, nefazodone, and HIV protease inhibitors. Patients should confirm all medications they are taking with their doctor and pharmacist.
Patients who become pregnant while taking Colcrys should notify their doctor immediately.
When to Call a Doctor
Patients should call their doctor if they feel sick and want to stop, or they you are concerned about any side effects.
Other reasons to call a doctor while taking Colcrys include:
- Severe diarrhea
- New muscle pain or weakness
- Becoming pregnant or planning pregnancy
Watch Dr. Andy Thompson, a Canadian rheumatologist, introduce Colcrys in a short video: