As doctors treat patients with COVID-19, they continue to evaluate how repurposing existing treatments may support recovery. A phase 3 clinical trial with colchicine, an anti-inflammatory treatment used for conditions like gout and pericarditis, showed using the drug for COVID-19 reduced some adverse events, like death and hospitalization, among patients recovering at home – but only if they had a positive COVID-19 test result. When the analysis was combined with patients who did not receive a nasal swab-based test to confirm they had the coronavirus, the researchers found no difference in hospitalization or death rates among patients receiving the treatment or a placebo. The findings from this study, partially supported by the NHLBI, published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
The trial consisted of 4,488 adults assigned to one of two groups: those receiving colchicine or a placebo for 27 days. Adults in this study were at least 40 years old and had at least one risk factor for severe COVID-19 outcomes, such as being age 70 or older or having diabetes, obesity, or uncontrolled hypertension. Initially, researchers found no statistically significant difference in outcomes among either group. However, upon further analysis, they found that the 4,159 patients (93%) who had a positive COVID-19 test result were about 25% less likely to die or be hospitalized if they were in the treatment group (4.6% vs. 6%). All participants who received colchicine were also more likely (13.7% vs. 7.3%) to have diarrhea.
As of July 8, 2021, experts from the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel conclude there is not enough evidence to recommend using or not using colchicine for non-hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Based on prior research, they also found no benefit for providing this treatment to hospitalized patients with COVID-19.