Colchicine overdose - The need for a specific antidote

Nancy L. Fagan, Robert E. Wear, Mark A. Malesker, Lee E. Morrow, Dan Schuller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: To report the case of a colchicine overdose to highlight current limitations in the treatment of this toxicologic emergency. Summary: A 23-year-old man was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) after attempting suicide via polypharmacy ingestion, which included 80 to 100 colchicine 0.6 mg tablets (approximately 0.9 mg/kg of body weight). He was taken to the emergency department where gastric decontamination was initiated. Because attempts to obtain a colchicine-specific antibody fragment (Fab) were unsuccessful, only supportive therapies were provided throughout his hospitalization. Over the course of several days, the patient experienced the 3 separate evolutionary phases of colchicine toxicity ultimately leading to multiple organ failure and hemodynamic collapse, and death. Conclusion: Acute colchicine intoxication is a rare, but potentially life-threatening event. Although 1 case report demonstrated the successful use of a colchicine-specific Fab fragment in the management of acute colchicine overdose, there is presently no commercially-available antidote for colchicine toxicity. Prompt recognition of the overdose, aggressive gastrointestinal decontamination, and supportive therapies directed at the multi-organ failure remain the standard of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-53
Number of pages5
JournalHospital Pharmacy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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