Despite widespread use of colchicine, the evidence basis for oral colchicine therapy and dosing in acute gout remains limited. The aim of this trial was to compare low-dose colchicine (abbreviated at 1 hour) and high-dose colchicine (prolonged over 6 hours) with placebo in gout flare, using regimens producing comparable maximum plasma concentrations in healthy volunteers.


This multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study compared self-administered low-dose colchicine (1.8 mg total over 1 hour) and high-dose colchicine (4.8 mg total over 6 hours) with placebo. The primary end point was ≥50% pain reduction at 24 hours without rescue medication.


There were 184 patients in the intent-to-treat analysis. Responders included 28 of 74 patients (37.8%) in the low-dose group, 17 of 52 patients (32.7%) in the high-dose group, and 9 of 58 patients (15.5%) in the placebo group (P = 0.005 and P = 0.034, respectively, versus placebo). Rescue medication was taken within the first 24 hours by 23 patients (31.1%) in the low-dose group (P = 0.027 versus placebo), 18 patients (34.6%) in the high-dose group (P = 0.103 versus placebo), and 29 patients (50.0%) in the placebo group. The low-dose group had an adverse event (AE) profile similar to that of the placebo group, with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.5 (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.7–3.2). High-dose colchicine was associated with significantly more diarrhea, vomiting, and other AEs compared with low-dose colchicine or placebo. With high-dose colchicine, 40 patients (76.9%) had diarrhea (OR 21.3 [95% CI 7.9–56.9]), 10 (19.2%) had severe diarrhea, and 9 (17.3%) had vomiting. With low-dose colchicine, 23.0% of the patients had diarrhea (OR 1.9 [95% CI 0.8–4.8]), none had severe diarrhea, and none had vomiting.


Low-dose colchicine yielded both maximum plasma concentration and early gout flare efficacy comparable with that of high-dose colchicine, with a safety profile indistinguishable from that of placebo.