Serious toxic manifestations associated with colchicine include myelosuppression, disseminated intravascular coagulation and injury to cells in the renal, hepatic, circulatory and central nervous systems. These most often occur with excessive accumulation or overdosage [see Overdosage (10)].
The following adverse reactions have been identified with colchicine. These have been generally reversible upon temporarily interrupting treatment or lowering the dose of colchicine. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.
Neurological: sensory motor neuropathy
Dermatological: alopecia, maculopapular rash, purpura, rash
Digestive: abdominal cramping, abdominal pain, diarrhea, lactose intolerance, nausea, vomiting
Hematological: leukopenia, granulocytopenia, thrombocytopenia, pancytopenia, aplastic anemia
Hepatobiliary: elevated AST, elevated ALT
Musculoskeletal: myopathy, elevated CPK, myotonia, muscle weakness, muscle pain, rhabdomyolysis
Reproductive: azoospermia, oligospermia
Colchicine is a substrate of the efflux transporter P-glycoprotein (P-gp). Of the cytochrome P450 enzymes tested, CYP3A4 was mainly involved in the metabolism of colchicine. If colchicine tablets are administered with drugs that inhibit P-gp, most of which also inhibit CYP3A4, increased concentrations of colchicine are likely. Fatal drug interactions have been reported.
Physicians should ensure that patients are suitable candidates for treatment with colchicine tablets and remain alert for signs and symptoms of toxicities related to increased colchicine exposure as a result of a drug interaction. Signs and symptoms of colchicine tablets toxicity should be evaluated promptly and, if toxicity is suspected, colchicine tablets should be discontinued immediately.
Table 4 provides recommendations as a result of other potentially significant drug interactions. Table 1 provides recommendations for strong and moderate CYP3A4 inhibitors and P-gp inhibitors.
Concomitant Drug Class or Food
Noted or Anticipated Outcome
HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitors:
atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, simvastatin
Pharmacokinetic and/or pharmacodynamic interaction: the addition of one drug to a stable long-term regimen of the other has resulted in myopathy and rhabdomyolysis (including a fatality)
Weigh the potential benefits and risks and carefully monitor patients for any signs or symptoms of muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness, particularly during initial therapy; monitoring CPK (creatine phosphokinase) will not necessarily prevent the occurrence of severe myopathy.
Other Lipid-Lowering Drugs:
P-gp substrate; rhabdomyolysis has been reported
Available data from published literature on colchicine use in pregnancy over several decades have not identified any drug associated risks for major birth defects, miscarriage, or adverse maternal or fetal outcomes (see Data). Colchicine crosses the human placenta. Although animal reproductive and developmental studies were not conducted with colchicine tablets, published animal reproduction and development studies indicate that colchicine causes embryofetal toxicity, teratogenicity and altered postnatal development at exposures within or above the clinical therapeutic range.
The estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage for the indicated population is unknown. All pregnancies have a background risk of birth defect, loss, or other adverse outcomes. In the U.S. general population, the estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage in clinically recognized pregnancies is 2 to 4% and 15 to 20%, respectively.
Available data from published observational studies, case series, and case reports over several decades do not suggest an increased risk for major birth defects or miscarriage in pregnant women with rheumatic diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis, Behcet’s disease, or familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) treated with colchicine at therapeutic doses during pregnancy. Limitations of these data include the lack of randomization and inability to control for confounders such as underlying maternal disease and maternal use of concomitant medications.
Colchicine is present in human milk (see Data). Adverse events in breastfed infants have not been reported in the published literature after administration of colchicine to lactating women. There are no data on the effects of colchicine on milk production. The developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother’s clinical need for colchicine tablets and any potential adverse effects on the breastfed child from colchicine tablets or from the underlying maternal condition.
Limited published data from case reports and a small lactation study demonstrate that colchicine is present in breastmilk. A systematic review of literature reported no adverse effects in 149 breastfed children. In a prospective observational cohort study, no gastrointestinal or other symptoms were reported in 38 colchicine-exposed breastfed infants.
Case reports and epidemiology studies in human male subjects on colchicine therapy indicated that infertility from colchicine is rare and may be reversible. A case report indicated that azoospermia was reversed when therapy was stopped. Case reports and epidemiology studies in female subjects on colchicine therapy have not established a clear relationship between colchicine use and female infertility. However, since the progression of FMF without treatment may result in infertility, the use of colchicine needs to be weighed against the potential risks [see Nonclinical Toxicology (13.1)].
The safety and efficacy of colchicine in children of all ages with FMF has been evaluated in uncontrolled studies. There does not appear to be an adverse effect on growth in children with FMF treated long-term with colchicine.
Safety and effectiveness of colchicine in pediatric patients with gout has not been established.
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