A new perspective on the pharmacoeconomics of colchicine.Curr Med Res Opin. 2011 May; 27(5):931-7.CM
Gout is a common inflammatory arthritis that affects ∼4% of the US population. Most patients with gout are >50 years of age and have multiple comorbidities. Gout is caused by the deposition of monosodium urate crystals in joints secondary to hyperuricemia. Gout typically presents as an acute painful inflammation (flare) involving one or more joint. Left untreated it can progress into a more chronic polyarthritis. Acute gout flare treatment options include colchicine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and corticosteroids. The safety and efficacy of colchicine, especially in the presence of comorbidity and potential contraindications, has only recently been systematically investigated.
Through the use of a systematic computer-based literature analysis, this pharmacoeconomic review evaluated costs, risks, and benefits of Colcrys (colchicine) compared with other treatments for gout in the US.
Both colchicine and NSAIDs are historically associated with gastrointestinal (GI) adverse events (AEs). Colchicine has very low risk for AEs, even in patients with GI disorders; whereas, NSAIDS are contraindicated in patients with GI disorders, renal insufficiency, and heart failure. The monthly cost of treating 100 patients with Colcrys was $33,100 compared with $3000 for NSAIDs. However, hospitalization for GI complications (1.8%) and heart failure (1.9%) is common with NSAIDs and can increase the monthly cost of treating 100 patients with NSAIDs to $161,000, considering $15,000-20,000 per day of hospitalization.
Considering high costs associated with treating patients with gout, it seems prudent to choose the treatment with greatest benefit, lowest cost, and least risk. Despite higher cost per dose, colchicine appears to be more cost effective for management of gout flares than NSAIDs.