(for veterinary information only)
BRAND NAME: COLCRYS, ARTEX
Cell division, a process more scientifically known as “mitosis,” requires microscopic protein fibers, acting like structural cables, to pull dividing cells apart. These cables are called “mitotic spindles” and colchicine interferes with their formation. The ability of colchicine to interfere with this sort of structural protein formation has led to its use in scarring diseases such as hepatic cirrhosis, and abnormal protein depositions such as amyloidosis. Colchicine is widely used in human medicine against gout though it is not clear exactly why it helps. In gout, colchicine appears to reduce inflammation associated with urate crystal accumulation.
HOW THIS MEDICATION IS USED
In veterinary medicine, is generally used once a day. 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 not only is 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) may increase the potential for bone marrow issues.
CONCERNS AND CAUTIONS
Colchicine tablets should be kept away from light exposure.
Colchicine cannot be used in pregnancy and is probably best not used in animals intended for breeding.
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: 7/24/2014