New antibiotic could help prevent C.diff deaths

Vale of Leven Hospital, Alexandra, where a C.diff outbreak cost 34 lives. Picture: Donald MacLeod
Vale of Leven Hospital, Alexandra, where a C.diff outbreak cost 34 lives. Picture: Donald MacLeod
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A NEW antibiotic could potentially prevent hundreds of C.diff deaths in UK hospitals each year, research has shown.

The bug Clostridium difficile (C.diff) contributes to almost 2,000 deaths every year in the UK, mostly in hospitals and care homes.

Scientists studying data on 1,071 patients from five NHS trusts found that the antibiotic fidaxomicin reduced C. diff death rates by 16% compared with other treatments.

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Nationwide, this would translate to around 320 saved lives each year.

Fidaxomicin, marketed under the brand name Dificlir, is the first licensed antibiotic designed to target C.diff since the 1950s.

It is highly selective in the way it attacks the bug rather than other gut bacteria, some of which are beneficial.

Results from the real-world evaluation trial were presented at the Federation of Infection Societies conference in Harrogate.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Simon Goldenberg, consultant microbiologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, said: “Today’s results show a genuine step change in the treatment of C. difficile.”

Fellow expert Professor Mark Wilcox, head of microbiology at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “This is the first time we have UK data from routine clinical practice to show that one treatment for C. diff infection, fidaxomicin, appears to result in a lower risk of death.

“The results are welcome and highlight what may be achievable for these infections, which can often lead to death, particularly in frail elderly patients.”

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