COVID-19: Dreaded Colchicine Shortage

COVID-19: Dreaded Colchicine Shortage
COVID-19: Dreaded Colchicine Shortage

Even if the industry says it has planned the blow, doctors who prescribe colchicine for all kinds of inflammatory diseases are bracing for a shortage, should the efficacy of this drug against COVID-19 be confirmed.

• Read also: A “ray of hope” with colchicine

“If this is true, we can predict a very strong demand, and the industry may not be able to compensate at first,” anticipated the Dre Isabelle Deschênes, rheumatologist at the Haut-Richelieu Hospital.

In her practice, the specialist regularly prescribes colchicine to her patients when they are suffering from an acute attack of gout disease, a form of arthritis.

Colchicine is also used to treat pericarditis and certain skin diseases.

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Now, the first results of a large study conducted by the Montreal Heart Institute suggest that this tablet would also limit complications related to COVID-19.

“If the drug ends up being approved for COVID-19, it’s going to tumble very quickly. So, we must already think of recommendations to identify patients for whom colchicine is the only drug that can be prescribed, ”explained Dr.re Deschênes.

Still, the rheumatologist added that for most people, other remedies can be used as solutions during extreme stages of gout.

Ready to meet demand

Quebec-based pharmaceutical Pharmascience, the main manufacturer of colchicine in the country, is also reassuring.

“Even though there are no indications yet that governments want to use it, we took a risk and we have an inventory that could be able to meet Canadian demand for COVID-19,” said informs the director of government and public affairs of the company, Alain Boisvert.

“Greece has already approved colchicine for COVID-19. It is understood that there is going to be a big demand from all over the world. Hence the importance that the drug be manufactured in Canada, ”continued Dr.r David Goodman, President and CEO of Pharmascience.

Bad memories

Thus, the Montreal company does not expect a shortage, provided of course that the health community shows more discipline with colchicine than with hydroxychloroquine, at the start of the pandemic.

Boasted by the controversial French infectious disease specialist Didier Raoult, this treatment has been at the center of an unprecedented craze across the world, although no serious study has confirmed its effectiveness for the coronavirus.

Doctors have prescribed it to patients without valid grounds, and hospitals have reserved it.

Consequence: Quebec health authorities had to restrict the distribution of hydroxychloroquine in the spring and people with rheumatism were deprived of it for a few weeks.

“Since hydroxychloroquine works for a long time, there was no impact on the health of people, but there was a lot of stress in the patients,” said Dr.re Isabelle Deschênes, who hopes not to relive the same situation with colchicine.

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