FDA OKs Low-Dose Colchicine for Broad CV Indication

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the anti-inflammatory drug colchicine 0.5 mg tablets (Lodoco) as the first specific anti-inflammatory drug demonstrated to reduce the risk for myocardial infarction (MI), stroke, coronary revascularization, and cardiovascular death in adult patients with established atherosclerotic disease or with multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The drug, which targets residual inflammation as an underlying cause of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, has a dosage of 0.5 mg once daily, and can be used alone or in combination with cholesterol-lowering medications. 

The drug’s manufacturer, Agepha Pharma, says it anticipates that Lodoco will be available for prescription in the second half of 2023.

Colchicine has been available for many years and used at higher doses for the acute treatment of gout and pericarditis, but the current formulation is a much lower dose for long-term use in patients with atherosclerotic heart disease.

Data supporting the approval has come from two major randomized trials, LoDoCo-2 and COLCOT.

In the LoDoCo-2 trial, the anti-inflammatory drug cut the risk of cardiovascular events by one third when added to standard prevention therapies in patients with chronic coronary disease. And in the COLCOT study, use of colchicine reduced cardiovascular events by 23% compared with placebo in patients with a recent MI. 

Paul Ridker, MD, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who has been a pioneer in establishing inflammation as an underlying cause of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease welcomed the Lodoco approval.

“A V ery Big Day for Cardiology”

“This is a very big day for cardiology,” Ridker told theheart.org | Medscape Cardiology.

“The FDA approval of colchicine for patients with atherosclerotic disease is a huge signal that physicians need to be aware of inflammation as a key player in cardiovascular disease,” he said.

Ridker was the lead author of a recent study showing that among patients receiving contemporary statins, inflammation assessed by high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) was a stronger predictor for risk of future cardiovascular events and death than LDL-cholesterol.

He pointed out that the indication for Lodoco was very broad, simply stating that it can be used in in adult patients with established atherosclerotic disease or with multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

“That is virtually identical to the indication approved for statin therapy. That shows just how important the FDA thinks this is,” he commented.

But Ridker pointed out that, while the label does not specify that Lodoco has to be used in addition to statin therapy, he believes that it will be used as additional therapy to statins in the vast majority of patients.

“This is not an alternative to statin therapy. In the randomized trials, the benefits were seen on top of statins,” he stressed.

Ridker believes that physicians will need time to feel comfortable with this new approach. 

“Initially, I think, it will be used mainly by cardiologists who know about inflammation, but I believe over time it will be widely prescribed by internists, in much the same way as statins are used today,” he commented.

Ridker says he already uses low dose colchicine in his high-risk patients who have high levels of inflammation as seen on hsCRP testing. He believes this is where the drug will mostly be used initially, as this is where it is likely to be most effective.

The prescribing information states that Lodoco is contraindicated in patients who are taking strong CYP3A4 inhibitors or P-gp inhibitors, such as ketoconazole, fluconazole and clarithromycin; and in patients with preexisting blood dyscrasias, renal failure, and severe hepatic impairment.

Common side effects reported in published clinical studies and literature with the use of colchicine are gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramping) and myalgia.

More serious adverse effects are listed as blood dyscrasias such as myelosuppression, leukopenia, granulocytopenia, thrombocytopenia, pancytopenia, and aplastic anemia; and neuromuscular toxicity in the form of myotoxicity including rhabdomyolysis, which may occur, especially in combination with other drugs known to cause this effect. If these adverse effects occur, it is recommended that the drug be stopped.

The prescribing information also notes that Lodoco may rarely and transiently impair fertility in males; and that patients with renal or hepatic impairment should be monitored closely for adverse effects of colchicine.

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