Colchicine is now a branded gout drug, and why patients lose

Colchicine is a commonly used drug to treat gout. It used to cost pennies a pill, but now its price has since soared to $5 or more a pill.

What happened?

It’s an unintended consequence of FDA regulation. Colchicine had been used for centuries, but was caught up with the FDA’s zeal to regulate unapproved drugs.

A profit-driven pharmaceutical company swooped in at the opportunity, and performed the studies showing that the drug, of course, was safe. It then began selling it at markedly higher prices, and is suing the generic manufacturers for infringing on its branded drug.

Some of these manufacturers have stopped producing generic colchicine, while others have raised their prices.

The biggest loser, of course, are patients. What normally would cost $5 to $10 a month, now costs up to $150 monthly. It’s a ridiculous situation that can only happen in America.

There are three main ways to treat acute gout: colchicine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and oral steroids. With colchcine’s cost being an issue, I suspect more physicians will switch to anti-inflammatories, which can be more dangerous than colchicine in select patients.

It will be interesting to see if other drug manufacturers will try the same approach with other old, previously unapproved, medications. It sure beats the expensive research and development needed to produce a new pill.

View 11 Comments >