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Expensive Colcrys replaces colchicine

DEAR DR. GOTT: You told a reader the injectable form of colchicine is no longer available but the oral tablet is. I beg to differ. I recently attempted to get a renewal of colchicine and was told by the pharmacist that it was no longer available and had been withdrawn from the market. I had to have my doctor write a script for the brand name Colcrys. My health plan, which usually pays for my generic medications, balked, and I had to pay more than $40 for the brand name Colcrys. The generic has been withdrawn from the market, according to my Walgreens pharmacist.

DEAR DR. GOTT: Oral colchicine was taken off the market because there was no way to check for objectionable materials in the formula. It was replaced with Colcrys, an FDA-approved drug, this past December.

DEAR DR. GOTT: Regarding your article about colchicine, I believe the patient’s physician may be indicating all generic versions of colchicine have been pulled from the market. The brand name Colcrys is the only FDA-approved colchicine available. The dosing has changed significantly, and so has the price. I am a pharmacist and wanted to pass along this info.

DEAR DR. GOTT: I take colchicine for gout. Generic colchicine has been removed from the market, supposedly because of quality issues. It is now available as the brand-name drug Colcrys. The price has gone from about $20 to $200 for a 30-day supply.

DEAR DR. GOTT: My 62-year-old husband was diagnosed two months ago with pericarditis. His doctor prescribed colchicine for inflammation. When his doctor gave him a prescription for another month’s supply, he was told that this medication is not approved by the FDA and will not be made any longer. We did find one pharmacy in our town that has a small supply, but we are wondering what will happen if my husband has to continue the medication. His doctor thinks there is no problem getting it, but we hear a different story from the pharmacist. What is the story?

DEAR DR. GOTT: Oral colchicine has been pulled from the market. I was told the only drug to take its place is Colcrys. My doctor gave me a prescription for Colcrys, and fortunately, I have insurance. For a month at two pills a day, the drug costs $500; but with my insurance, I paid only $15.

DEAR DR. GOTT: Colchicine is one of the drugs the FDA has “partially” removed from the market by requiring new drug studies on older drugs. The only available oral formula is Colcrys. Any of the older formulations still stocked at retail pharmacies can be dispensed but are no longer being produced.

DEAR DR. GOTT: I think your comment about colchicine being pulled from the market may be incorrect. My pharmacist told me the generic form was discontinued. I now have Colcrys. A three-month supply of colchicine was $68.49. Colcrys is $527.49. Now I really have gout pain!

DEAR READERS: Thank you. Commencing Oct. 1, 2010, the FDA ordered pharmaceutical companies to discontinue unapproved generic single-ingredient oral colchicine within 45 days and to cease shipping the product in interstate commerce within 90 days. A press release indicated small amounts of colchicine would be available until supplies were exhausted. The FDA halted the injectable form in February 2008. The product lacks FDA approval, something that is now required of all prescription medications.

The FDA-approved brand name Colcrys is currently the only form of oral cohchicine in production. I am not aware of any other available forms at this time.

Dr. Peter H. Gott is a retired physician.His website is www.askdrgottmd.com.


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