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This cheap, oral anti-inflammatory drug can reduce Covid severity

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An inexpensive, readily available oral anti-inflammatory drug can reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death for some patients with Covid-19, according to a study.

Colchicine, which is currently prescribed to treat gout, familial Mediterranean fever and pericarditis, could be considered as a treatment for those at risk of complications, revealed the findings published in the science journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

"Given the current pandemic, while awaiting collective immunity through vaccination around the world, the need for treatments to prevent Covid-19 complications among patients who contract the disease remains," said Jean-Claude Tardif, Director of the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) Research Centre.

"Our study showed that colchicine could be used to reduce the risk of complications for some patients with Covid-19," Tardif, who is also a Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University de Montreal.

For the study, the team conducted a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, home-based clinical trial in Canada, the United States, Europe, South America, and South Africa.

The team included 4,488 non-hospitalised patients over 40 years of age with Covid-19 at the time of inclusion, with at least one identified risk factor for Covid-19 complications (e.g., diabetes, hypertension, known respiratory disease, obesity). Patients were randomised to receive colchicine (0.5 mg twice daily for three days and once daily after) or placebo for 30 days.

The results showed that of 4,159 patients with Covid, the primary endpoint — that is the composite of death or hospitalisation — occurred in 4.6 per cent of patients in the colchicine group compared to 6.0 per cent in the placebo group, a statistically significant result.

Serious adverse events were reported in 4.9 per cent of patients in the colchicine group and 6.3 per cent of those in the placebo group.

"Notwithstanding these results, it is recommended that studies such as this one be replicated in non-hospitalised patients with a PCR-confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19," the researchers stressed.