New treatment approved for intestinal bug and its lethal diarrhea

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The FDA approved Optimer Pharmaceuticals’ antibiotic Dificid on Friday, marking the first new medicine in 25 years approved to treat diarrhea caused by the bacterium Clostridium dificile. This is welcome news, since “C-diff” is likely even more of a problem in hospital settings than the antibiotic-resistant Staph, MRSA. C. dificile infection is currently treated with the antibiotics oral vancomycin (Vancocin) or metronidazole (Flagyl) — which is not FDA approved for this purpose. In two clinical trials involving a total of approximately 1,100 patients, Dificid and oral vancomycin both cleared the diarrhea in more than 85 percent of patients within ten days. But 25 days post-treatment, about 70 percent of the Dificid users remained uninfected, compared with 57 percent of those treated with oral vancomycin.

Adds ACSH's Dr. Josh Bloom, “ The only previous treatment for C-diff — oral vancomycin — although it is poorly absorbed, is potentially toxic. It is very helpful to have an available alternative against this severe infection, since this bug often occurs among debilitated patients and therefore can be lethal.”