New data suggest the investigational drug rifaximin, a non-absorbed (less than .5%) antibiotic with few side effects and low potential for resistance, is effective in preventing travelers diarrhea, an illness that affects up to 60 percent of international travelers. Until now, antimicrobial prophylaxis, while effective, has been discouraged because of side effects and the encouragement of resistance. The study results, presented Sunday, May 16 at the 2004 Digestive Disease Week (DDW) annual meeting by lead investigator, Herbert L. DuPont, M.D., Chief of the Internal Medicine Service at St. Lukes Episcopal Hospital in Houston, showed that, over two weeks, 85 percent of the rifaximin-treated subjects remained free of diarrhea, compared with 49 percent of the placebo-treated subjects.
Dr. DuPont is also Director, Center for Infectious Diseases, University of Texas, Houston School of Public Health and Vice-Chairman, Department of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
Travelers diarrhea threatens up to 50 million persons going to Mexico and Latin America, Africa and southern Asia each year. The illness can render travelers bed ridden for a full day or more, and considerably decrease their energy for up to a week or longer. In addition, a bout of travelers diarrhea can also cause chronic diarrhea and long-lasting irritable bowel syndrome in some people. The antibiotic, rifaximin, with the projected brand name of Xifaxan, is currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It has previously been shown by researchers to be a safe and effective form of therapy for treatment of travelers diarrhea in clinical studies conducted in Mexico, Peru, India and Kenya and has been prescribed internationally since 1987 and is currently approved in 17 countries worldwide.
Corrie Murphy | EurekAlert!
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