Evaluating Appropriate Use of Prophylactic Colchicine for Gout Flare Prevention




American College of Rheumatology and European League Against Rheumatism guidelines recommend colchicine to prevent gout flares in patients initiating and increasing uric acid–lowering therapy until serum uric acid is maintained at ≤6 mg/dl. We aimed to evaluate how well colchicine prescribing practices adhere to these guidelines and to examine factors associated with improved prescribing.


Electronic medical records were reviewed for 126 patients with active colchicine prescriptions for prophylaxis of gout flares. Colchicine prescribing was defined as inappropriate if 1) no concurrent urate-lowering therapy was prescribed, 2) uric acid was not at goal and urate-lowering therapy had not been increased in the past 3 months, or 3) uric acid goals were met for >1 year and flares had resolved in the absence of tophi.


Colchicine use was considered inappropriate in 93 patients (73.8%). Thirty-four were prescribed no urate-lowering therapy, 50 were above the uric acid goal without urate-lowering therapy increase in the prior 3 months, and 9 were at the uric acid goal for >1 year without flares or tophi. Patients appropriately prescribed colchicine were younger and were more likely to have been seen by a rheumatologist. Allopurinol dose and allergy, uric acid level, and renal function were similar in the 2 groups.


We found a high prevalence of what we considered inappropriate prophylactic colchicine use, driven largely by failure to prescribe concurrent urate-lowering therapies or adequately increase these medications. Rheumatology consultation was associated with improved colchicine prescribing.