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Invited Commentary
November 30, 2020

The Colchicine Debacle Revisited

Author Affiliations
  • 1School of Pharmacy, University of California, San Francisco
JAMA Intern Med. 2021;181(2):287-288. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.5044

The Research Letter by McCormick and colleagues1 clearly reveals the ripple effect associated with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Unapproved Drug Initiative approval of colchicine (Colcrys). The investigators’ goal was to document the trends in national spending before and after the approval of Colcrys and to secondarily determine the proportion of this spending that was attributable solely to the price increase. Medicaid and Medicare data files through 2017 were used to analyze trends. Among the key findings was that the 2017 combined Medicaid and Medicare claims exceeded $340 million. Medicaid spending for colchicine increased almost 3000%, from $1.1 million in 2008 to $32.2 million in 2017. The investigators confirmed that 58% of the increased spending was due to the price increase alone.

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1 Comment for this article
Other meds, same issue
Eric Frankel, MSE, BS Pharm, PharmD | Benewah Community Hospital, Saint Maries, Idaho
I would like to point out that the same laws and the fact that the FDA is not accountable for the economic impact of its actions, has resulted in economic fallout for pancreatic enzyme replacement products and selenious acid (selenium trace element). In addition, multiple trace metal injectables have undergone a price hike with the introduction of Tralement® and withdrawal of MTE-5.