How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Colchicine is a medication used to treat gout and prevent frequently occurring attacks of gout. Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs when too much uric acid builds up in the body because the body is unable to get rid of it quickly enough. Colchicine works by reducing the swelling, inflammation, and pain that occurs when uric acid crystals form in the joints.

Colchicine may also be used to prevent attacks of gout at the same time as other medications for gout are being used, such as probenecid, sulfinpyrazone, or allopurinol.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

0.6 mg
Each yellow scored tablet engraved "O/0.6" contains colchicine USP 0.6 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: D&C Yellow No. 10, FD&C Yellow No. 6, magnesium stearate, polyvinylpyrrolidone, sodium starch glycolate, and sucrose. This medication does not contain alcohol, gluten, paraben, lactose, sulfite, or tartrazine.

How should I use this medication?

Acute gouty arthritis: Colchicine needs to be started at the first signs of the attack when it is used to treat acute gouty arthritis, or an acute attack of gout. The usual adult dose is 0.6 mg 3 to 4 times daily until the pain is reduced or until gastrointestinal (stomach upset or diarrhea) side effects begin to occur.

It may take 12 to 48 hours for the medication to work.

Prevention of acute gout: The usual recommended dose to prevent flare-ups of gout is 1 mg daily. However, the dose can vary and may range from 0.5 mg 1 to 4 times weekly to 1.8 mg daily, depending on how often the attacks occur.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not take this medication if you:

  • are allergic to colchicine or any ingredients of this medication
  • have a serious disease of the digestive system
  • have active peptic (stomach) ulcers
  • have diseases or illnesses related to the blood or bone marrow
  • have serious kidney disease
  • have serious liver disease
  • have severe heart disease

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • blood in the urine
  • frequent infections (e.g. frequent colds may be a sign of low white blood cells)
  • hair loss
  • infertility (e.g. decreased sperm production)
  • muscle aches
  • prickling, tingling, or numbness in the arms or legs
  • reduced urine production
  • signs of bleeding (e.g., bloody nose, blood in urine, coughing blood, cuts that don't stop bleeding)
  • signs of liver problems (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, dark urine, pale stools)

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • signs of a serious allergic reaction (i.e., abdominal cramps, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, or swelling of the face and throat)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Blood counts: This medication can decrease the number of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell that helps fight infection) and platelets (which help your blood to clot). Your doctor will do blood tests to monitor this. If you notice any signs of infection (e.g., fever, chills, or sore throat) or unusual bleeding or bruising, contact your doctor immediately.

Digestive system: If you have severe conditions affecting the digestive system such as peptic ulcer or spastic colon, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Heart disease: If you have heart disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Kidney disease: If you have kidney disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. Lower or less frequent doses of colchicine may be needed.

Liver disease: If you have liver disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

If you are taking colchicine and notice yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, dark urine, or pale stools, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking colchicine, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Seniors: Colchicine may be more likely to cause side effects for seniors due to decreased ability to clear the medication from the body through the liver and kidneys.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between colchicine and any of the following:

  • alcohol
  • cyclosporine
  • diltiazem
  • fluconazole, voriconazole
  • grapefruit juice
  • macrolide antibiotics (e.g., azithromycin, clarithromycin, erythromycin)
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs; e.g., acetylsalicylic acid, ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen)
  • rifampin
  • ritonavir
  • verapamil
  • vitamin B12

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.