Colchicine twice a day for hand osteoarthritis (COLOR): a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial

Anna Døssing*, Marius Henriksen, Karen Ellegaard, Sabrina Mai Nielsen, Lisa K. Stamp, Felix C. Müller, Margreet Kloppenburg, Ida K. Haugen, Geraldine M. McCarthy, Philip G. Conaghan, Louise Ulff-Møller Dahl, Lene Terslev, Roy D. Altman, Fabio Becce, Elisabeth Ginnerup-Nielsen, Lene Jensen, Mikael Boesen, Robin Christensen, Ulla Dal, Henning Bliddal

*Corresponding author for this work
4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Colchicine has been suggested for osteoarthritis treatment, but evidence is contradictory. We aimed to investigate colchicine's efficacy and safety compared with placebo in people with hand osteoarthritis. Methods: In this single-centre, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial we recruited adults with symptomatic hand osteoarthritis and finger pain of at least 40 mm on a 100 mm visual analogue scale from an outpatient clinic in Denmark. The hand with the most severe finger pain at inclusion was the target hand. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1) to 0·5 mg colchicine or placebo taken orally twice a day for 12 weeks, stratified by BMI (≥30 kg/m2), sex, and age (≥75 years). Participants, outcome assessors, and data analysts were masked to treatment allocation. The primary endpoint was change from baseline to week 12 in target hand finger pain, assessed on a 100 mm visual analogue scale with a pre-specified minimal clinically important difference of 15 mm, in the intention-to-treat population. Safety was assessed at week 12 in the intention-to-treat population. The study was registered with, NCT04601883, and with EudraCT, 2020-002803-20. Findings: Between Jan 15, 2021, and March 3, 2022, 186 people were screened for eligibility, and 100 were randomly assigned to receive colchicine (n=50) or placebo (n=50). Participants had a mean age of 70·9 (SD 7·5) years, 69 (69%) of 100 were women and 31 (31%) were men. All participants completed the study. The mean change from baseline to week 12 in finger pain were –13·9 mm (SE 2·8) in the colchicine group and –13·5 mm (2·8) in the placebo group, with a between-group difference (colchicine vs placebo) of –0·4 mm (95% CI –7·6 to 6·7; p=0·90). In the colchicine group, there were 76 adverse events in 36 (72%) of 50 participants and one serious adverse advent (migraine attack leading to hospital admission). In the placebo group, there were 42 adverse events in 22 (44%) of 50 participants and two serious adverse events (cholecystitis and elevated alanine aminotransferase concentrations, in the same patient). Interpretation: In people with painful hand osteoarthritis, treatment with 0·5 mg of colchicine twice day for 12 weeks did not effectively relieve pain, and treatment with colchicine was associated with more adverse events. Funding: The Oak Foundation, IMK Almene Fond, Minister Erna Hamilton's Scholarship for Science and Art, AP Moller and Wife Chastine McKinney Moller's Foundation for Medical Science Advancement, The Danish Medical Association, the Velux Foundation, Aase and Ejnar Danielsen's Foundation, and Director Emil C Hertz and Wife Inger Hertz's foundation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Lancet Rheumatology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)e254-e262
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


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