Colchicine can help treat or prevent gout flares, as well as treat familial Mediterranean fever (FMF). At this time, there is only one FDA-approved product (Colcrys). All other colchicine products are unapproved, as they are older medications that were around before the current regulations were established. Possible off-label uses of colchicine may include the treatment of recurrent pericarditis and scleroderma.
An Introduction to the Uses of ColchicineColchicine (Colcrys®) is a prescription medication that is most commonly used for gout. However, most colchicine products have never been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (as colchicine was around long before the current rules and regulations were in place). These unapproved products are labeled for the treatment and prevention of gout attacks; it is inaccurate to say these products are approved for any use.
There is one FDA-approved colchicine product (Colcrys®). Colcrys is approved for the following uses:
- Treating and preventing gout flares (gout attacks)
- Treating familial Mediterranean fever (FMF).
Gout is one of the most painful forms of arthritis. It is caused in part by high uric acid levels (see Causes of Gout). Uric acid is a substance that results from the breakdown of purines, which are part of all human tissue and are found in many foods.
Normally, uric acid is dissolved in the blood and passed through the kidneys into the urine, where it is eliminated from the body. If the body increases its production of uric acid, or if the kidneys do not eliminate enough from the body, increased levels of uric acid accumulate in the blood.
Excess uric acid can form crystals in joints or other parts of the body. These crystals can lead to inflammation, causing painful gout symptoms.
Colchicine can be used to both treat and prevent gout attacks. However, there is no cure for gout, and gout medications may work better when combined with additional measures, such as a gout diet.