Doctors concerned about new strains of hospital-acquired infections

A new study shows healthcare providers are concerned about the increase in a new strain of hospital-acquired infections.

The study, released Wednesday by Arlington Medical Resources (AMR) and Decision Resources, found that a relapse or recurrence of Clostridium difficile infections in the hospital setting is difficult to treat.

The study comes as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is considering adding Clostridium difficile to its list of "never events," or preventable hospital-acquired conditions for which CMS will lower or cut Medicare payments to hospitals.

Surveyed infectious disease specialists emphasized the need for new agents that have lower relapse rates than the current treatments available. Currently, clinicians have limited treatment options for patients with this infection; oral metronidazole (Pfizer's Flagyl, Sanofi Aventis's Rodogyl, generics) and oral vancomycin (ViroPharma's Vancocin) are the most commonly used agents for treating both first and relapse episodes of Clostridium difficile infections in the United States and Europe.

According to infectious disease specialists surveyed for the report, new strains of Clostridium difficile and the lack of effective second- and later-line therapies are also significant challenges in treatment.

Clostridium difficile is a gram-positive bacterium that can cause symptoms ranging from severe diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon and is most common among the elderly. A new hypervirulent strain, BI/NAP1/027, has been associated with severe outbreaks of Clostridium difficile in North America and Europe and has raised awareness about the need for improved treatment and prevention strategies.

For the study, AMR and Decision Resources analyzed hospital antibiotic prescribing patterns using detailed clinical data from the United States and Europe. The study also gathered information on physicians' product preferences, factors driving hospital antibiotic prescribing patterns and receptivity to emerging antibiotics.