BREAKING! Colchicine, An Ancient Pharmaceutical Shows Positive Results In Early Clinical Trial To Treat Severe COVID-19
Colchicine and COVID-19
: Greek researchers have reported success in a small early clinical trial using an ancient drug called Colchicine to treat patients with severe COVID-19.
The clinical trial results were published yesterday in the journal: JAMA Network Open
The drug called colchicine is an anti-inflammatory taken as a pill. It has long been prescribed for gout, a form of arthritis, and its history goes back centuries. The drug was first sourced from the autumn crocus flower.
Physicians also sometimes use colchicine to treat pericarditis, where the sac around the heart becomes inflamed.
Thailand Medical News had reported in late April about its potential use to treat cytokine storms in COVID-19 patients. https://www.thailandmedical.news/news/covid-19-pneumonia-drugs-colchicine-being-studied-to-prevent-cytokine-storms-in-patients
In many countries, doctors are finding that treating COVID-19 patients using Colchicine along with Ivermectin is proving to be a good combination. The protocol is being by certain doctors used in Florida, California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Texas and also in countries like India, Brazil, Indonesia and Philippines.
The Greek clinical trial involved 105 patients hospitalized in April with COVID-19. Besides receiving standard antibiotics and antivirals (but not remdesivir), half of the participants got daily doses of colchicine for up to three weeks, while the other half did not.
Dr Spyridon Deftereos, a cardiologist at Attikon Hospital in Attiki, Greece and the study leader told Thailand Medical News, “The clinical trial results suggest a significant clinical benefit from colchicine in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.”
Significantly, while the condition of seven of 50 patients who didn't get colchicine "clinically deteriorated" to a severe stage (for example, requiring mechanical ventilation to survive), this was true for just one of the 55 patients who did receive colchicine.
A group of U.S. physicians writing in a journal editorial, agreed that the study has limits, but applauded the Greek team for "showing us that an old drug may still have new life."
Cardiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, Dr Amir Rabbani, and his colleagues stressed in the editorial that the study size was too small to offer a definitive statement on whether colchicine should be used routinely against COVID-19. However they said that its effects on certain blood markers of heart function, as observed in the new study suggest that colchicin
e has anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting effects that could help limit the cardiovascular damage wreaked by COVID-19.
An emergency medicine physician in Orlando, Florida- Dr Rajiv Bahl who has seen the ravages of severe COVID-19 in patients firsthand, reading over the Greek findings, noted that colchicine "has also been used to prevent heart conditions such as pericarditis and other inflammatory conditions affecting the body."
Dr Bahl said, “still, the new study is too small, so although it "does show some early promise, future studies need to be conducted before we can incorporate colchicine as an extensively used medication to help combat COVID-19."
As initially reported in April, researchers in the United States and Canada are testing colchicine's ability to keep high-risk COVID-19 patients from getting sick enough to land in the hospital.
One such researcher Dr Priscilla Hsue, a Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), told Thailand Medical News, "one of the unique aspects is that we're trying to hit this before individuals need to be hospitalized."
Dr Hsue explained, “Colchicine is the medication of choice for a few reasons, unlike many drugs being tested in hospital patients which are given by infusion or injection, colchicine tablets are easy to take and inexpensive, so it could easily be used at home. The medication also has a long history of safe use for gout.”
Dr Hsue added, “A recent trial found that low-dose colchicine benefits people who've recently suffered a heart attack. Patients who took one tablet a day curbed their risk of further heart complications or stroke over the next two years.”
It should be noted that heart injury is a common problem in individuals who become seriously ill with COVID-19, at least partly, researchers suspect, because of a runaway immune system reaction called a "cytokine storm."
Dr Hsue believes it's worth investigating whether colchicine could help prevent such heart issues.
A new North American trial aims to enroll 6,000 patients newly diagnosed with COVID-19 who are at increased risk of serious illness because they are older than 69, or have conditions like heart or lung disease.
In order to keep those patients isolated at home, the study has an unusual "contactless" design ie patients will receive the medication by courier, and have follow-up visits via video or phone. The researchers will look at whether the tactic lowers hospitalization rates and deaths over one month.
Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dr Randy Cron is an expert on the "cytokine storm."
Though Dr Cron believes that targeting cytokine storms in COVID-19 is wise, he had some reservations about giving colchicine to people with no signs of the severe immune reaction. Could any dampening of their immune response against the virus backfire?
Dr Cron said, "My concern is, could it make the infection worse?"
Dr Hsue, however, pointed to the safety record of the medication, and noted that the dose given in the trial will be lower than what is routinely used for gout.
However, in the end, experts say the only way to definitively prove any medication works for COVID-19 is through clinical trials.
The new colchicine study is currently recruiting patients, with UCSF and New York University School of Medicine being the first two U.S. sites involved. Interested candidates can contact Thailand Medical News.
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