Commonly used anti-inflammatory drug colchicine is set to be investigated in the UK’s RECOVERY trial, which is testing treatments for patients hospitalised with COVID-19.

Colchicine has been included in the trial as it has a range of anti-inflammatory effects and is often used to treat gout and other inflammatory conditions.

Severe COVID-19 often presents with inflammation which can result in lung damage, the need for mechanical ventilation and death.

The decision to add colchicine was made by researchers from the University of Oxford and a trial steering committee in conjunction with the UK’s chief medical officer, following a recommendation by the UK COVID’19 Therapeutics Advisory Panel.

Researchers are expecting at least 2,500 patients within the RECOVERY trial to be randomly allocated to receive colchicine plus standard-of-care.

The main outcome of the trial is to assess mortality after 28 days, as well as other outcomes including the impact on hospital stay and need for ventilation.

“Inflammation plays a major role in COVID-19 and we’ve already shown that treatment with one anti-inflammatory drug, dexamethasone, can reduce deaths in the most severely ill COVID-19 patients,” said Professor Martin Landray, co-leader of the RECOVERY trial.

“Colchicine is very widely used to treat gout and other inflammatory conditions such as pericarditis. By including colchicine in the RECOVERY trial, we will be able to establish whether it helps tackle the worst consequences of COVID-19,” he added,

Aside from colchicine, a number of other treatments are currently being investigated in the RECOVERY trial, including Actemra (tocilizumab), convalescent plasma, REGN-COV2 and aspirin.

The trial is conducted by the registered clinical trials units with the Nuffield Department of Population Health in partnership with the Nuffield Department of Medicine.