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Colchicine: 6 things you should know

Medically reviewed by C. Fookes, BPharm Last updated on Aug 28, 2018.

1. How it works

  • Colchicine is thought to relieve the symptoms of gout by blocking the inflammatory response to the presence of urate crystals in synovial fluid (the fluid between joints) mediated by neutrophils. Colchicine may also dampen down the effect of other inflammatory substances.

2. Upsides

  • May be used to prevent gout flares in adults.
  • There have been no reports of tolerance, dependence or abuse associated with colchicine use.

3. Downsides

If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • Gastrointestinal effects (such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting). These may be an initial sign of toxicity and the dosage of colchicine may need to be reduced or stopped. Contact your doctor for further advice.
  • Other side effects include muscle pain or weakness, hair loss, rash, changes in the numbers of blood cells or liver enzymes, and low sperm counts.
  • There is a lack of evidence regarding the safety and effectiveness of colchicine when used as a treatment for acute gout (although it has been used for this purpose in certain circumstances).
  • Colchicine should not be used to treat pain that occurs as a result of other conditions.
  • Colchicine is a substrate for the P-glycoprotein transporter and for the CYP3A4 metabolizing enzyme. In people with kidney or liver disease, colchicine may cause a potentially fatal reaction with other medications that inhibit P-glycoprotein or CYP3A4 (such as ketoconazole, clarithromycin, erythromycin, grapefruit juice, cyclosporine, or verapamil). Colchicine should not be given to people with kidney or liver disease.
  • Colchicine may also interact with other medications such as statins and fibrates (may increase the risk of muscle damage).

Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.

4. Bottom Line

Colchicine is effective for preventing gout flares in adults; however, colchicine may interact with a number of other medications and cause gastrointestinal side effects at higher dosages.

5. Tips

  • May be taken with or without food.
  • When colchicine is used to prevent gout flares it should be taken regularly, once or twice a day as prescribed by your doctor.
  • If you experience any gastrointestinal side effects from colchicine such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, contact your doctor to discuss.
  • Do not take colchicine with any other medications or over-the-counter medicines without first talking with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Do not take colchicine with grapefruit or grapefruit products.
  • If you develop any symptoms of muscle pain or weakness or numbness in the fingers or toes, contact your doctor immediately and discontinue colchicine. Also, contact your doctor if you experience any unusual bleeding or bruising or skin discoloration.

6. Response and Effectiveness

  • Peak concentrations of colchicine are reached within 0.7 to 2.5 hours after oral administration. Food has no effect on the absorption of colchicine. Some reduction in pain should be expected within 24 hours of taking colchicine.


Colchicine [Package Insert]. Revised 01/2017. West-Ward Pharmaceuticals Corp

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use colchicine only for the indication prescribed.

Copyright 1996-2019 Revision date: August 28, 2018.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.