Gout Drug Colchicine Studied to Treat Pericarditis
November 1, 2011 by Alex.
Pericarditis can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or a steroid), but recurrences are frequent - occurring in about 50% of patients after their first attack, and one third of patients with acute pericarditis. Some patients have been treated with another drug, colchicine, although there is little data from clinical trials on its effectiveness.
Researchers form Italy's Maria Vittoria Hospital conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study to see whether colchicine can help resolve the symptoms and prevent further recurrences of pericarditis. The results were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
One-hundred-and-twenty patients who had a first occurrence of pericarditis were randomly assigned to receive either generic colchicine or a placebo pill every day for six months. Both groups also received anti-inflammatory drugs. The researchers found that symptoms of pericarditis improved within one week more often for patients who received colchicine than for those who received a placebo.
Patients who received colchicine also had about half the number of additional episodes of pericarditis during the following eighteen months than those who received the placebo. Gastrointestinal symptoms (such as diarrhea, nausea, or discomfort) were the most frequent side effects, occurring in seven percent of the patients in both groups.
It is also not yet known how long treatment with colchicine should be continued. Patients whose pericarditis was caused by specific infections or cancer, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and patients who had already had more than one incidence of pericarditis were not included in the study, so it's not known whether colchicine would be beneficial or safe for those patients.
Colchicine is not approved for the treatment of pericarditis in the United States or Europe, and this use is considered off-label. But the researchers say the implications of their study are that colchicine is a safe and effective treatment for some patients who have had their first occurrence of pericarditis.
Colchicine has been used as a gout medication since the 1800s, and an estimated three million Americans rely on the gout drug to ease the intense pain of gouty arthritis. The price of colchicine soared in the US in 2010, when URL Pharma was given market exclusivity for their name brand Colcrys, and generic colchicine was ordered off the market.
Generic colchicine is still available in Canada, and American gouty arthritis sufferers can still buy colchicine at a reasonable price through an online pharmacy with a valid prescription.
Filed under: Recurrent Pericarditis, Gout Medications.
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