A drug used to treat gout could reduce Covid hospital stays - according to new research

The drug commonly used to treat gout could be useful in the fight against Covid-19 (Photo: OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the results of new research conducted in Brazil, a drug normally used to treat gout, called colchicine, has been found to possibly reduce hospital stays for Covid-19 patients, and the need for extra oxygen.

The findings of the small clinical trial appeared in the online journal RMD Open, which is published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

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The trial suggests that colchicine could help lessen the inflammatory response of the body, and help to ward off damage done to the cells lining the walls of blood vessels.

The study explains that systemic inflammation “is the hallmark of hospitalised patients [with] Covid-19, for which there is no specific treatment”.

The research says: “Whatever the mechanism of the action - inhibiting inflammasome, reducing neutrophil migration and activation or preventing endothelial damage - colchicine seems to be beneficial for the treatment of hospitalised patients with Covid-19.”

‘Patients who received colchicine presented better’

The conclusion to the research states: “Patients who received colchicine in this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial presented better evolution in terms of the need for supplemental oxygen and the length of hospitalisation.

“Colchicine was safe and well tolerated.”

The study was conducted from 11 April to 31 August 2020, with the results based on 72 patients who had been admitted to hospital with moderate to severe Covid-19.

Moderate Covid-19 was defined as patients “with fever, dyspnoea and imaging findings of pneumonia”. Severe Covid-19 was defined as patients “with the same findings of moderate [Covid-19] plus respiratory rate ≥30 times per minute or oxygen saturation (SatO2) ≤92 per cent”.

These patients were randomly assigned varying levels of colchicine.

The study adds: “Clinical trials with larger numbers of patients should be conducted to further evaluate the efficacy and safety of colchicine as an adjunctive therapy for hospitalised patients with moderate to severe Covid-19.”

The study explains that the drug was “well tolerated”, with the most common adverse side effect being diarrhoea.

‘Colchicine reduces complications associated with Covid-19’

In January, the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) also announced that the COLCORONA clinical trial produced clinically persuasive results of colchicine’s efficacy to treat Covid-19.

The results showed that colchicine reduced the risk of death or hospitalisation in patients with Covid-19 by 21 per cent, in comparison to the placebo.

Dr Jean-Claude Tardif, Director of the MHI Research Centre, Professor of Medicine at the Université de Montréal and Principal Investigator of the COLCORONA trial, said: “Our research shows the efficacy of colchicine treatment in preventing the ‘cytokine storm’ phenomenon and reducing the complications associated with Covid-19.”