Covid-19: colchicine ineffective in hospitalized patients

Colchicine, a drug in which Canadian scientists had high hopes in January, is not effective in hospitalized Covid-19 patients, according to the findings of the large British clinical trial Recovery.

The use of colchicine “is not associated with a reduction in mortality (…), the length of hospital stay or the risk of being placed on mechanical ventilation”, write the British researchers in a study put online Tuesday, but not yet published in a scientific journal.

“Unfortunately, there is no evidence of clinical benefit” from this drug, according to the results of this trial involving 11,000 patients, tweeted one of Recovery officials, Peter Horby.

“There were good reasons to think that it could work (…) but we determined that the colchicine was not effective”, added, also on Twitter, another person in charge of the British test, Martin Landray .

At the end of January, researchers from the Montreal Heart Institute assured that colchicine, an anti-inflammatory drug used in particular against gout, could significantly reduce complications and mortality in Covid-19 patients.

Their preliminary study, named Colcorona, involved patients with Covid but not yet hospitalized. In the process, Greece had authorized the prescription of this drug to treat Covid-19.

But these hopes had been greeted with caution by the international scientific community, according to which these claims were insufficiently substantiated.

On February 4, the Isens, the official Quebec authority in charge of drugs, considered it “premature to support the use of colchicine in people not hospitalized with a diagnosis” of Covid-19.

The Isens had argued that the results of the study were not “statistically significant” and called for further research. He also pointed to the “possible occurrence of pulmonary embolism following the intake of colchicine in the population infected with SARS-CoV-2 not hospitalized”.

On March 5, officials at Recovery, which assesses the effectiveness of several treatments against Covid, decided to stop the part of the trial devoted to colchicine, deemed inconclusive.

These are the results that were published on Tuesday. They were obtained by comparing the clinical course of 5,610 hospitalized patients who received colchicine, and 5,730 who did not.

Since the start of the pandemic, several drugs have proved ineffective after being the subject of spectacular announcements, such as hydroxychloroquine.

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