The anti-inflammatory drug colchicine doesn't lessen COVID severity, the risk of death or shorten hospital stays, a new study reports. Nor does it lower the need for admission to the intensive care unit or a ventilator.
"There is no additional benefit of adding colchicine to supportive care in the management of patients with COVID-19," said the study team, which was led by Dr. Kedar Gautambhai Mehta, an assistant professor of community medicine at GMERS Medical College Gotri in Vadodara, India.
The anti-inflammatory drug is also associated with a high risk of side effects, particularly diarrhea, researchers added.
They examined 69 studies published through July 2021 on the use of colchicine to treat SARS-CoV-2 infection. The studies included six randomized, controlled trials that included 16,148 patients who had COVID with varying degrees of severity.
Patients taking colchicine had 58% higher rates of side effects and almost double the risk of diarrhea compared to those given usual supportive care.
"Our findings on colchicine should be interpreted cautiously due to the inclusion of open-labeled, randomized clinical trials," the authors said in a news release. "The analysis of efficacy and safety outcomes are based on a small number of [randomized controlled trials] in control interventions."
The findings were recently published in the open access journal RMD Open.
SOURCE: BMJ, news release, Nov. 22, 2021
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