Second UK trial to study gout drug colchicine as COVID-19 treatment

(Reuters) – Gout medication colchicine will be tested in a large UK study looking into potential early-stage COVID-19 treatments and enrollment criteria was widened for the latest arm of the trial, University of Oxford researchers said on Wednesday.

The drug had shown promise in reducing hospital admissions in COVID-19 patients in a Canadian study, but not much is known about how it can affect recovery time, control severity of symptoms and prevent hospitalisations altogether, researchers said.

Global coronavirus infections have hit nearly 115 million as new, highly transmissible variants are prompting researchers to tweak their testing strategies, and repurpose existing medicines to aid vaccine rollouts.

The trial, backed by the British government and called PRINCIPLE, is assessing drugs that may be used at home in the first 14 days of COVID-19 infection to help patients recover quicker and ward off the need for further intervention or hospitalisation.

Earlier this year, the study ruled out common antibiotics azithromycin and doxycycline as possible treatments, and is still studying asthma drug budesonide.

FILE PHOTO: The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS.

“Even with successful vaccines and other preventable measures in place, the availability of treatments with a solid evidence-base has a critical role to play in ending this pandemic,” co-lead investigator of the trial Chris Butler said.

Adults either 18 to 64 years of age with shortness of breath from COVID-19 or certain underlying health conditions that put them at high risk, or those aged over 65 can volunteer for the colchicine arm of the trial, Oxford said.

Colchicine is an inexpensive drug already being tested in UK’s RECOVERY study, which is the world’s largest trial of treatments for patients hospitalised with COVID-19.

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Shailesh Kuber

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