Major study finds ‘world’s first’ oral medicine effective in treating Covid


MONTREAL: A major clinical trial shows that an inflammatory drug called colchicine is effective in treating Covid-19 and reduces the risk of complications from the disease, doctors in Canada said.

The results of the study are a “major scientific discovery” and make colchicine – a medicine used to treat gout – “the world’s first oral drug that could be used to treat non-hospitalised patients with Covid-19”, the Montreal Heart Institute said in a statement late Friday.

The study results show that colchicine reduced by 21% the risk of death or hospitalisations in patients with Covid-19 compared to placebo, the institute said.

The study was carried out in Canada, the US, Europe and South America among a population of 4,488 patients.

In 4,159 of these patients, in whom the diagnosis of Covid-19 was proven by a naso-pharyngeal PCR test, use of colchicine reduced hospitalisations by 25%, the need for mechanical ventilation by 50%, and deaths by 44%, the study concluded.

Colchicine is effective in preventing dangerous inflammatory syndromes called “cytokine storms” and reducing complications associated with Covid-19, said Dr Jean-Claude Tardif, director of the MHI Research Centre and principal investigator in this study.

“We are pleased to offer the first oral medication in the world whose use could have a significant impact on public health and potentially prevent Covid-19 complications for millions of patients,” Tardif said.

The study was conducted among Covid-19 patients not hospitalised at the time of enrollment in the trial, and with at least one risk factor for Covid-19 complications.

“This is the world’s largest study testing an orally administered drug in non-hospitalised patients with Covid-19,” the heart institute said.