Recently, Chain Drug Review reported that the FDA had approved a generic form of colchicine pills (normally prescribed as Mitigare, Colcrys, or Gloperba) for the treatment of familial Mediterranean fever (FMF). Now that the generic form is available, the treatment should be less costly for people living with this rare disease.
What is Colchicine?
Typically, colchicine is provided as a therapy to combat pain and inflammation. This treatment, in its non-generic form, is usually given to patients with gout attacks, recurrent pericarditis, or familial Mediterranean fever. According to WebMD, colchicine works by reducing uric acid (in gout) or amyloid A (in familial Mediterranean fever). The treatment can be administered in pill or liquid formulation. The generic form of colchicine was developed by pharmaceutical company Aurobindo Pharma.
Side effects of colchicine include diarrhea; nausea and vomiting; abdominal cramping; and abdominal pain. Despite these side effects, the treatment is considered to be relatively safe and well-tolerated. Learn more about colchicine.
Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF)
MEFV gene mutations cause familial Mediterranean fever (FMF), a rare illness which causes recurrent fevers and painful abdominal, joint, and lung inflammation. Normally, MEFV encodes for the production of a protein called pyrin. Found in white blood cells, pyrin regulates inflammation throughout the body. Thus, gene mutations cause unbounded inflammation. In most cases, FMF manifests during childhood. While it can occur in people of all backgrounds, it is most common in those with Armenian, Turkish, Italian, Greek, Arabic, or Sephardic Jewish heritage.
With FMF, symptoms usually appear in “attacks” which last for 1-3 days at a time. Outside of these attacks, patients usually experience periods of remission (or no symptoms) which may last for days, weeks, or even years. When symptoms do occur, these include:
- Abdominal pain
- Recurrent fever
- Joint pain and swelling
- Chest pain and difficulty breathing
- Muscle pain
- Scrotum swelling and tenderness
- Red rash that appears below the knees
- Female infertility (complication)
- Amyloidosis (complication)
- Kidney damage (complication)