(for veterinary information only)
BRAND NAME: COLCRYS
Colchicine is a medication with several seemingly unrelated uses and effects. In humans, it is mostly used in the treatment of gout (a metabolic disease where uric acid crystals deposit in joints creating pain). In this condition, it appears to relieve inflammation associated with crystal accumulation but in dogs and cats colchicine is used to reduce scarring processes such as liver cirrhosis and abnormal protein deposition such as amyloidosis. Colchicine stimulates enzymes called collagenases which break down collagen protein (the structural proteins that make up scars) and inhibits liver cells from making amyloid A (an abnormal protein that destructively infiltrates other organs especially the kidney - see below).
Colchicine interferes with cell division by interfering with the formation of "mitotic spindles," the protein cables that pull the dividing cells apart.
HOW THIS MEDICATION IS USED
In veterinary medicine, is generally used once a day. It may be given with or without food. Common diseases in pets that commonly involve colchicines treatment are:
Veterinary experience with colchicine is limited to dogs.
Because of colchicine’s ability to interfere with cell division, it should not be used in animals for breeding. It is not only harmful to unborn young but will also reduce sperm production.
The chief side effect is nausea. Often a low dose is started to see if the patient tolerates the drug and if no problems occur with vomiting, diarrhea, or appetite loss then the dose is raised to a more therapeutic level.
Also, because of colchicine’s ability to interfere with cell division, there has been some concern about bone marrow toxicity. Since many dogs, particularly Shar-peis, are on this drug for years on end, it is prudent to consider periodic blood testing to check the white and red blood cell counts.
The use of colchicine may cause a urine dip stick to falsely read positive for blood. The use of colchicine can also increase the alkaline phosphatase level as read on a blood chemistry panel.
Colchicine can deplete the body of vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) in some cases. Check with your veterinarian to see if supplementation, either oral or injectable, is a recommended for your pet.
INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER DRUGS
Concurrent use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are felt to increase colchicine’s bone marrow effects. This should be kept in mind particularly for Shar-peis with Recurrent Fever Syndrome as this type of anti-inflammatory drug might readily be used to reduce a fever. Similarly other drugs that have bone marrow side effects (particularly chemotherapy agents and the antibiotic chloramphenicol) may increase the potential for bone marrow issues.
Concurrent use of colchicine and cyclosporine (an immunomodulator), diltiazem (used in heart disease), or erythromycin (an antibiotic) can increase the potential for kidney damage and bone marrow suppression.
CONCERNS AND CAUTIONS
Colchicine tablets should be stored at room temperature and kept away from light exposure.
If a dose is accidentally skipped by more than 8 hours, simply pick up with the next scheduled dose. Do not double up on doses.
Colchicine cannot be used in pregnancy and is probably best not used in animals intended for breeding.
Colchicine should not be used in pregnancy as it interferes will cell division. It should not be handled by pregnant women. Urine from treated animals may also pose a hazard to pregnant women.
In 2010, the FDA granted URL Pharma sole rights to produce colchicine as their own brand name product. This action removed all generics from the market, dramatically increased the price of colchicine, and created a drug availability crisis. A compassionate use program is in place for human patients who cannot afford the new pricing and, happily, this program has been extended to veterinary patients as well. At this time options for purchase of colchicine include:
Page last updated: 3/17/2022