Colcrys, Colchicine, Gloperba, Mitigare
Colchicine (KOL chi seen) is a generic medication prescribed for gout. It’s also prescribed for a rare genetic condition called familial Mediterranean fever. Colchicine belongs to a group of drugs called anti-gout medications.
Medically reviewed by Amber Watson, PharmD on May 2, 2023
Written by Helen Marshall, BPharm, MRPharmS
This article describes colchicine’s uses and dosage, ways to save on cost, and more. Below you’ll find some coupon options for colchicine.
Side effects of colchicine
Colchicine may cause mild or serious side effects. More common mild side effects of colchicine and its serious side effects are listed below. This article doesn’t include all possible side effects of the drug. Side effects can vary based on your age, overall health, and any other medications you take.
To learn more about colchicine’s side effects, see this article or ask your doctor or pharmacist. You can also read the prescribing information* for colchicine.
Mild side effects
More common mild side effects reported with some forms of colchicine are listed below.
This article doesn’t include all possible mild side effects of the drug. To learn more about colchicine’s side effects, see the prescribing information* for colchicine.
With many drugs, mild side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If the side effects are bothersome, tell your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to suggest ways to manage them.
Colchicine oral tablet’s mild side effects include:
- nausea and vomiting
- abdominal pain
- sore throat
- mild allergic reaction†
* To view colchicine’s prescribing information, see the “Article resources” section below.
† For details about this side effect, see the “Warnings for colchicine” section below.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects of colchicine are listed below. To learn more about colchicine’s side effects, see the prescribing information* for colchicine.
This article doesn’t include all possible serious side effects of the drug. To learn more about colchicine’s side effects, see the prescribing information* for colchicine.
With many drugs, serious side effects are possible but not common. If you have serious side effects from this drug, call your doctor right away. If you’re having severe symptoms or a medical emergency, call 911 or a local emergency number.
Colchicine’s serious side effects include:
- muscle damage
- nerve damage, which causes tingling or numbness
- blood disorders, such as low levels of red or white blood cells or platelets (cells that help with blood clotting)
- severe allergic reaction†
* To view colchicine’s prescribing information, see the “Article resources” section below.
† For details about this side effect, see the “Warnings for colchicine” section below.
Uses of colchicine
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves prescription drugs such as colchicine for certain conditions. Approved uses for colchicine are described below.
Use for gout
Doctors may prescribe colchicine oral tablet for treating and helping prevent gout flares. It’s used for this purpose in adults and children ages 16 years and older. It’s usually prescribed as a short-term treatment.
With gout, you have a buildup of uric acid in your body. The uric acid can form crystals in your joints, especially in the joint at the base of your big toe. This causes intense pain and swelling in the affected joints. This is known as a gout flare. Colchicine reduces the pain and swelling associated with a gout flare.
If you have gout flares often, your doctor may prescribe medication to lower the level of uric acid in your blood. Examples of these medications include allopurinol (Lopurin, Zyloprim) and febuxostat (Uloric). These medications help prevent gout flares. But they can sometimes trigger a gout flare when you first start taking them. Colchicine is prescribed to help prevent gout flares when starting treatment with these medications.
Use for familial Mediterranean fever
Doctors may prescribe colchicine oral tablet for treating a rare genetic condition called familial Mediterranean fever (FMF). It’s used for this purpose in adults and children ages 4 years and older. It’s usually prescribed as a long-term treatment.
With FMF, you have repeated episodes of fever along with swelling in your joints, lungs, and abdomen. The swelling causes severe pain. You may also have other symptoms with the episodes, including skin rash and headache. Without treatment, FMF can lead to complications such as kidney failure. Colchicine is prescribed to help prevent episodes of FMF. It also helps prevent complications of FMF.
Dosage of colchicine
The dosage of colchicine your doctor prescribes may vary based on your condition and certain other factors. Talk with your doctor about the dosage you should take.
Colchicine oral tablet is swallowed, with or without food.
Your doctor will talk with you about how to take colchicine. They’ll explain how much to take and how often. Always follow your doctor’s recommendation.
Overdose of colchicine
You should not take more colchicine than your doctor prescribes. Doing so may lead to serious side effects, overdose, and even death.
If you think you’ve taken too much colchicine, call your doctor or pharmacist right away. Or you could call 800-222-1222 to speak with someone at America’s Poison Centers. You can also use its online resource. If you have concerning symptoms, call 911 or a local emergency number immediately. You can also go to the closest emergency room.
Common questions about colchicine
Below you’ll find answers to a few commonly asked questions about colchicine.
Can colchicine be used for pericarditis?
Possibly, colchicine may be used off-label for pericarditis (swelling around the heart). With off-label use, a drug is prescribed for a use that’s not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
To learn more about using colchicine for pericarditis, talk with your doctor.
Is colchicine similar to allopurinol?
No, colchicine isn’t similar to allopurinol (Lopurin, Zyloprim). Both these drugs are used for gout, but they have different effects. Your doctor might sometimes prescribe them together for gout. It’s safe to take these medications together.
Allopurinol lowers the level of uric acid in your blood. It’s taken long term to help prevent gout flares. (With gout flares, you have joint pain and swelling caused by uric acid crystals forming in the joints.) But allopurinol can sometimes trigger a gout flare when you first start taking it.
Colchicine stops your body’s reaction to uric acid crystals. It’s used to help prevent gout flares when starting allopurinol treatment. It’s also used to treat joint swelling and pain caused by gout flares.
If you have questions about colchicine and allopurinol, talk with your doctor.
How does colchicine work? And how long does it take to start working?
Doctors don’t fully understand how colchicine works. However, it stops the inflammatory (swelling) responses that cause symptoms of gout and familial Mediterranean fever (FMF).
With gout, crystals of uric acid form in certain joints in your body. The crystals irritate the joint and cause an inflammatory response that leads to swelling and pain in and around the joint. Colchicine stops your body from producing an inflammatory response to the crystals, which reduces joint swelling and pain.
With FMF, a gene mutation (change) causes your body to produce unusual inflammatory responses. These responses cause episodes of fever, along with painful swelling in your joints, lungs, and abdomen. Colchicine stops your body from producing the unusual inflammatory responses, which helps prevent these episodes.
Colchicine starts working in about 30 minutes to 3 hours. But it may take a few days to relieve the symptoms of a gout flare. If you take colchicine to help prevent gout flares or FMF, you won’t likely notice it working.
Talk with your doctor about what to expect with when you take colchicine.
Is colchicine a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)?
No, colchicine is not a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Both colchicine and NSAIDs are prescribed to treat gout flares, but they work in different ways.
NSAIDs are pain relievers that can be used to reduce inflammation (swelling) and pain due to many different causes. Examples include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn).
Colchicine only reduces inflammation and pain caused by gout flares. It won’t work for most other types of pain or swelling.
If you have questions about colchicine and NSAIDs, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Can I take colchicine with coffee?
Yes, you can take colchicine with coffee. The medication doesn’t interact with coffee.
Colchicine may be used for treating and helping prevent gout flares. Some research suggests that drinking coffee may also help prevent gout flares. Your doctor can recommend whether taking colchicine with coffee may be helpful for managing gout.
You should not take colchicine with grapefruit juice. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice can increase the amount of colchicine in your body. This can raise your risk of serious side effects from the drug. (To learn more, see the “Side effects of colchicine” section above.)
Talk with your doctor if you have questions about how to take colchicine.
Interactions and warnings for colchicine
Below, you’ll find information about colchicine’s possible interactions and warnings.
Interactions of colchicine
For some medications, certain things may affect how the drug works. These include getting vaccines, consuming alcohol or certain foods, or taking the drug with other medications. This effect is called a drug interaction.
Before you take colchicine, ask your doctor to check for possible interactions. Be sure to tell them about any of the following you take or use:
- prescription medications
- over-the-counter medications
- vitamins, herbs, or supplements
To learn about drug-condition interactions, see the “Warnings for colchicine” section below.
Warnings for colchicine
Colchicine should not be taken by certain people. And it should be used cautiously by certain other people.
Colchicine could cause harm to people with certain health conditions. This effect is called a drug-condition interaction. Other factors can also affect whether colchicine is a safe option for you.
Ask your doctor about specific warnings for colchicine and be sure to tell your doctor about your:
- current health, including any allergies to medications
- past health conditions or surgeries
Colchicine can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Severe allergic reactions are rare but possible.
If you’ve had an allergic reaction to colchicine or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe colchicine. They can tell you about medications that are safer options for you.
A mild allergic reaction may cause the following symptoms:
A severe allergic reaction may cause the following symptoms:
- swelling under your skin, usually in your hands, feet, eyelids, or lips
- swelling of your mouth, throat, or tongue, which can cause breathing problems
If you have an allergic reaction to colchicine, call your doctor right away. If you have severe symptoms, call 911 or a local emergency number.
Pregnancy or breastfeeding and colchicine
Information about colchicine and pregnancy and breastfeeding is described below.
Colchicine and pregnancy
It’s not known whether colchicine should be taken during pregnancy. If you’re planning a pregnancy or can become pregnant, talk with your doctor before taking this medication.
Colchicine and breastfeeding
In general, colchicine is considered safe to take while breastfeeding. That said, ask your doctor about whether they feel it’s safe for you.
You may be able to save money on your prescription for colchicine by using our Perks discount coupons. They can be found at the end of this article.
If you have questions about how to pay for colchicine, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also learn more about the cost of colchicine in this article.
Note: Optum Perks coupons cannot be used with insurance copays or benefits.
What to ask your doctor
This article describes colchicine’s uses and dosage, ways to save on cost, and more. Let your doctor know if you have questions about colchicine or would like more details about it.
Here’s a list of some possible questions you may want to ask your doctor:
- How long will I need to take colchicine for?
- Are there other treatment options for my condition?
- Can colchicine cause long-term side effects?
- Colchicine. (2023). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501213/
- Colchicine – colchicine tablet, film-coated (2023). https://nctr-crs.fda.gov/fdalabel/services/spl/set-ids/28efb8cf-3ef4-4cd6-b6f6-131f3ca01112/spl-doc
- Food and Drug Administration. (2023). Orange Book: Approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/ob/index.cfm
- Kakutani-Hatayama M, et al. (2015). Nonpharmacological management of gout and hyperuricemia: Hints for better lifestyle. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1559827615601973
Disclaimer: Optum Perks has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
- 6 Tablets
(KOL chi seen)
Brand Names: US
What is this drug used for?
It is used to treat gout attacks. It is used to prevent gout attacks. It is used to treat familial Mediterranean fever. It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.
What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take this drug?
If you are allergic to this drug; any part of this drug; or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had. If you have any of these health problems: Kidney disease or liver disease. This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with this drug. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take this drug with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.
What are some things I need to know or do while I take this drug?
Tell all of your health care providers that you take this drug. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists. This drug interacts with many other drugs. The chance of side effects may be raised. This may include severe, life-threatening, or deadly side effects. Check with your doctor and pharmacist to make sure that it is safe for you to take this drug with all of your other drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins). Avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice. Deadly overdoses have happened with this drug in adults and children. Keep away from children. Do not take more than you were told. If this drug is taken by accident, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Some males have had sperm problems while taking this drug. This may affect being able to father a child. This may go back to normal after the drug is stopped. Talk with the doctor. If you are 65 or older, use this drug with care. You could have more side effects. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan on getting pregnant, or are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about the benefits and risks to you and the baby.
What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?
WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect: Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat. Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet. Pale skin. Very bad muscle problems have happened with this drug. This can also lead to kidney problems. Tell your doctor if you have muscle pain or weakness, especially if you feel very tired or weak or have a fever. Tell your doctor if you are not able to pass urine or you have a change in how much urine is passed. Low blood cell counts have happened with this drug. If blood cell counts get very low, this can lead to bleeding problems, infections, or anemia. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of infection like fever, chills, or sore throat; any unexplained bruising or bleeding; or if you feel very tired or weak.
What are some other side effects of this drug?
All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away: Stomach pain or diarrhea. Upset stomach or throwing up. These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-332-1088. You may also report side effects at https://www.fda.gov/medwatch.
How is this drug best taken?
Use this drug as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely. Take with or without food.
What do I do if I miss a dose?
Take a missed dose as soon as you think about it. If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time. Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses. To treat a gout attack, this drug is taken on an as needed basis.
How do I store and/or throw out this drug?
Store at room temperature protected from light. Store in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom. Keep lid tightly closed. Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets. Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.
General drug facts
If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor. Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs. This drug comes with an extra patient fact sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it with care. Read it again each time this drug is refilled. If you have any questions about this drug, please talk with the doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider. If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.
Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer
This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. You must talk with the healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.