Colchicine

Sounds like 'KOL-chi-seen'

Easy-to-read medicine information about colchicine – what it is, how to take colchicine safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Anti-gout medication (used to treat gout)
  • Colgout®

 undefinedColchicine is a high-risk medication. See special instruction & side effects 

What is colchicine?

  • Colchicine is used for the treatment of acute gout when other treatments are not suitable.
  • It is also used for the prevention of gout attacks for the first 3 to 6 months while starting on allopurinol.
  • Colchicine works by reducing the build up of uric acid crystals in the affected joints and in this way reduces the pain and swelling associated with gout.
  • Read more about gout.

Dose

  • The recommended dose for the treatment of an acute gout attack is:
    Two tablets (2 x 0.5mg tablet) at the same time, followed by 0.5mg (1 tablet) every six hours until relief is obtained.
    Do not take more than 5 tablets in the first 24 hours and Do not take more than 12 tablets over 4 days.
  • If you are elderly, or weigh less than 50 kilograms, or have poorly functioning kidneys, then Do not take more than 6 tablets over 4 days. 
  • Colchicine works best if you take it at the first sign of an acute gout attack. Colchicine is considered a high-risk medication because it can cause serious side effects. Always take colchicine exactly as your doctor has told you to. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much colchicine to take, and how often to take it, and any special instructions.

How to take colchicine

  • Swallow your colchicine tablet whole with a full glass of water.
  • Colchicine is not affected by food, so you can take colchicine with or without food.  
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking colchicine – it can cause stomach problems.

Special instructions

  • Always store colchicine out of reach of children – even a couple of tablets may be fatal for children
  • Never take more than the dose on the bottle
  • Stop taking colchicine immediately if you develop abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting, even if you still have gout pain.
  • Tell your doctor or pharmacist about all other medications you are taking – colchicine can be harmful when taken with some other medicines like antibiotics and medicines for pain relief

Possible side effects

Colchicine can cause serious side effects, although not everyone gets them.   

Side effects What should I do?
  • Stomach pain.
  • Diarrhoea, vomiting or not feeling well (nausea)
  • A burning feeling in your throat or on your skin
  • Stop taking colchicine immediately
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine.
  • Unusual bleeding or easy bruising
  • Fever, sore throat
  • Tiredness, muscle weakness, muscle cramps
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hair loss or thinning
  •  Tell your doctor if troublesome

Interactions

Colchicine interacts with a few medications and herbal supplements, so check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Learn more

Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet: Colgout 

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Dr J Bycroft. Health Navigator NZ