Gout drug tested as coronavirus treatment in large UK trial

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An anti-inflammatory drug widely used to treat gout and other conditions is the latest to be added to a large-scale trial in the U.K. that is investigating potential treatments for coronavirus.

Researchers leading the Randomized Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial said colchicine will be tested in hospitalized coronavirus patients.

“Colchicine is an attractive drug to evaluate in the RECOVERY trial as it is very well understood, inexpensive and widely available,” professor Peter Horby, co-chief investigator of the RECOVERY trial, said in a news release. “If it works it would be another COVID-19 treatment that could be used immediately worldwide, even in the poorest countries.”

In addition to gout, the drug is already approved to treat inflammatory conditions such as pericarditis. According to trial organizers, inflammation is a factor in severe COVID-19 cases, which can lead to lung damage, the need for ventilators and even death.

“Inflammation plays a major role in COVID-19 and we’ve already shown that treatment with one anti-inflammatory drug, dexamethasone, can reduce deaths in the most severely ill COVID-19 patients,” professor Martin Landray, a RECOVERY co-leader, said in the news release. “Colchicine is very widely used to treat gout and other inflammatory conditions such as pericarditis. By including colchicine in the RECOVERY trial, we will be able to establish whether it helps tackle the worst consequences of COVID-19.”

The drug will be given to up to 2,500 patients enrolled in the trial in 1,000 microgram doses initially, and then 500 micrograms every 12 hours for up to 10 days. The trial will assess mortality after 28 days and also the impact on hospital stay and need for ventilation, according to the news release.

The drug joins several other treatments being investigated in the RECOVERY trial including tocilizumab, convalescent plasma, Regeneron and aspirin. Investigators say they have already closed enrollment for azithromycin.

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