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Gout drug reduces Covid death or hospitalisation risk by 21%, say Canadian researchers

A widely-available low-cost drug, colchicine has been used for decades to treat gout and Behçet's disease, an inflammatory disorder that affects different parts of the body.

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New Delhi: The Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) Saturday announced that the results of the COLCORONA clinical trial have proven the efficacy of colchicine drug in treating Covid-19.

A press release by MHI Friday said the results of the trial have shown that colchicine can reduce the risk of death or hospitalisation in Covid-19 patients by 21 per cent.

A widely-available low-cost drug, colchicine has been used for decades to treat gout and Behçet’s disease, an inflammatory disorder that affects different parts of the body. The COLCORONA trial was conducted in several countries including Canada and the US to determine the effects of the drug in reducing complications associated with the coronavirus infection.

“The Canadian trial demonstrating the benefits of colchicine, an oral anti-inflammatory drug, on reducing the need for hospitalisation, mechanical ventilation and risk of death is a great advance in the treatment of Covid-19,” said Dr K.S. Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).

The trial

The COLCORONA trial was conducted in around 4,500 patients who were not “hospitalized at the time of enrollment, with at least one risk factor for COVID-19 complications”. The trial was being coordinated by the Montreal Heart Institute’s Montreal Health Innovations Coordinating Center.

“In these patients with a proven diagnosis of Covid-19, colchicine reduced hospitalizations by 25%, the need for mechanical ventilation by 50%, and deaths by 44%,” the press release said.

It also quoted the Director of the MHI Research Center, Dr Jean-Claude Tardif, as saying “Our research shows the efficacy of colchicine treatment in preventing the ‘cytokine storm’ phenomenon and reducing the complications associated with Covid-19.”

A cytokine is a type of protein secreted by the immune system that helps to ward off infection. A problem occurs when they are produced in excess, leading to ‘cytokine storm’, which is among the causes of deaths in Covid-19 patients.

Tardiff added that the drug will be the “first oral medication in the world” that will be used to prevent Covid-19 complications.

Noting the significance of the drug, Reddy said, “While providing a major therapeutic advance to aid us against Covid-19, it can also provide cardiovascular protection in persons with pre-existing heart disease. It also helps to reduce lung fibrosis and has been used for that purpose earlier. By fighting inflammation and protecting heart and lungs, this drug can provide broadband protection against Covid-19.”


Also read: Talking as bad as coughing if you have Covid, no mask & within 2 meters of others, study finds


 

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