(Philadelphia, PA) - University of Pennsylvania Health System researchers and their colleagues have concluded that the antibiotic linezolid has the potential to provide hospitals cost-saving benefits, when used to treat infections resistant to most other antibiotics that can extend patients length of stay. The drug is the first in a new class of antibiotics that attack bacteria in a way unlike existing therapies.
In a study published today, the researchers compared the hospital discharge rates for two groups of patients who were being treated for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, caused by bacteria resistant to all but the most powerful antibiotics. One group of patients received the new antibiotic linezolid (trade name ZYVOX), available in intravenous (IV) and tablet forms, and another received the most commonly prescribed antibiotic for treating MRSA infections, vancomycin, which is only available through IV administration. Among patients who completed the study and follow up tests, a significantly higher proportion of patients treated with linezolid were discharged from the hospital in their first week of therapy (30 percent) than the group treated with vancomycin (12 percent).
"Antibiotic resistance increases the length of stay and cost of treating infections in a hospital or nursing home. With few options to treat MRSA, these infections are associated with numerous costs to patients and providers," said Henry A. Glick, PhD, an internal medicine researcher in Penn's Department of Medicine, Health Services Research Unit, and principal health economic investigator of the study. "The equivalent IV and oral formulations of linezolid allow doctors to move patients to a pill at the earliest appropriate point, making it possible for some patients to be discharged from the hospital sooner and cutting costs in the process."
Approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration on April 18, 2000, linezolid is the only antibiotic with 100 percent equivalent IV and oral formulations designed to treat significant hospital-acquired infections. It has come on the market at a time when some bacteria are growing increasingly resistant to antibiotics currently in use. Representing the first antibiotic from the oxazolidinone class, ZYVOX attacks bacteria by stopping protein production at a very early point in the process that is different from any other antibiotic. Without protein production, bacteria cannot multiply and die. There is also important evidence that toxins produced by these bacteria are inhibited as well.
Glick and his colleagues reported their results in the March issue of Pharmacotherapy. Co-authors included Jim Li, Richard Willke, Lionel Pinto, Brian Rittenhouse, Michael Rybak, Andreas Pleil, Charles Crouch, Barry Hafkin. Their research was supported by Pharmacia Corporation.
Materials provided by University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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