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New antibiotic to help treat people with serious skin infections

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A new antibiotic on the U.S. market will help treat people who have serious infections of the skin and underlying tissues, thereby helping eradicate some antibiotic-resistant infections which may not respond to traditional antibiotics.

The medication, Dalvance (dalbavancin), which was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is meant to treat infections with a type of bacteria called “gram-positive,” such as Staphylococcus aureus. Included in that category are serious drug-resistant strains such as methicillin-resistant Staph aureus, or MRSA. These infections are referred to as “ABSSSI” for acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections.

According to information provided by the drug’s developer, Durata Therapeutics, Inc., in Chicago, ABSSSI skin infections are problematic, and getting worse in the United States. More than 4.8 million adults with ABSSSI were admitted to U.S. hospitals from 2005 to 2011 with some type of wound infection, the company stated in a press release about the drug. The infections are difficult to treat, and patients may have to undergo costly long-term treatment in the hospital to eradicate them.

"Health care providers and hospitals are under enormous pressure to contain costs while still delivering high-quality care that does not compromise patient outcomes," said David Talan, MD, FACEP, FIDSA, Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine and Faculty, Division of Infectious Diseases, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center.

"The approval of Dalvance is significant in this regard because it allows physicians to provide continuity of care across treatment settings for patients with ABSSSI as it helps reduce, or in some cases, may eliminate, the time patients spend in hospitals by providing an opportunity for care in an ambulatory setting,” he added. “These outpatient settings may offer a more convenient and potentially less costly treatment experience while still delivering high-quality care and proper follow up."

Thus, early and effective treatment of ABSSI is important to keep infections from worsening and preventing patients from being admitted to the hospital.

The drug was studied in two clinical trials of 1,289 adults with serious skin infections. Participants received either Dalvance or vancomycin, another antibiotic already on the market. Dalvance was found to be as effective as vancomycin. The drug is given intravenously, and is meant to be used only to treat serious or life-threatening infections. Patients receive two doses, followed by a third dose a week later. Most IV other antibiotics are given once or twice daily

The most common side effects identified in the clinical trials were nausea, headache and diarrhea. Additionally, more participants in the Dalvance group had elevations in one of their liver enzyme tests.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, MRSA skin infections can be prevented by:

• Contacting your doctor if you think you have an infection right away because finding infections early lower your chance that the infection will become severe.
• Looking for signs of infection, such redness, warmth, swelling, pus, and pain at sites where your skin has sores, abrasions, or cuts. Sometimes these infections can be confused with spider bites.
• Looking for signs of infection at sites covered by body hair or where clothing cause skin irritation or increased rubbing.
• Not trying to treat the infection yourself by picking or popping the sore.
• Covering possible infections with clean, dry bandages until you can be seen by a health care provider.

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