IV Antibiotics Could Help Treat Skin Infections
Study found two drugs worked as well as standard medication, with far fewer infusions needed
Half of the patients were randomly assigned to get one infusion of oritavancin, while the other half received IV vancomycin twice a day, for seven to 10 days. The treatments were equally effective: 80 percent of patients in each group were considered cured within a couple weeks of their last treatment.
The findings were similar in the dalbavancin trial, led by Dr. Helen Boucher of Tufts University in Boston.
There, patients received either two infusions of the drug, one week apart, or twice-daily vancomycin for at least three days. In both groups, 80 percent of patients were fever-free and showing no more growth in the skin infection within three days of starting treatment.
As for side effects, all three antibiotics caused problems such as nausea and diarrhea in a relatively small number of patients.
Chambers said longer-term safety is still a question with the new antibiotics. Both take weeks to clear from the body, he noted -- and in theory, that might cause an allergic reaction or other problems in certain patients.
"We haven't seen that in studies, where patients have been followed for 60 days," Corey said. But, he added, once drugs are used in the real world, rare risks can emerge.
The other concern, Corey said, is that if patients are sent home soon after treatment, those who develop more-serious "deep" infections -- like a blood infection -- will not be caught as quickly.
Still, he and Chambers said the benefit of preventing long hospital stays could be substantial.
The actual cost savings will depend on how the drugs are priced, Corey said. But since hospitalization is so expensive, he added, the medications should cut costs.
The oritavancin study was funded by The Medicines Company, which is developing the drug; Corey said he has no financial interest in it. He was a paid consultant to the company. The dalbavancin study was funded by Durata Therapeutics; Boucher, the lead researcher, has served as an advisor to the company.