New VRE drug showing early 70% efficacy rates

Drug in new class advances in worldwide trials

A new antibiotic agent in ongoing clinical trials continues to show promise as a valuable new weapon against vancomycin-resistant enterococcus infections, but was ineffective in 30% of infected patients in recently reported data.

The first agent in a class of antibiotics known as streptogramins, Synercid (quinupristin-dalfopristin) is an injectable antibiotic now in phase III clinical trials worldwide. It is currently available in the United States and Europe through an emergency use program sponsored and administered by Rhone-Poulenc Rorer in Collegeville, PA.

Preliminary results found 70% of 95 patients treated with the drug responded favorably — having symptoms improve or infections resolve — the company reports. In 67% of patients with bacteremia — the most severe and life-threatening infections — there was improvement and eradication of bacteria. Some patients successfully cleared of infections had been unsuccessfully treated with up to 11 other antibiotics.

Underlying medical conditions in the patients included immunosuppression, transplantation, neutropenia, hemodialysis, and prior surgeries. The agent was generally well tolerated in the patient population, the company reported, citing side effects observed as elevated liver function, phlebitis, rash, nausea, and muscle pain.

[Editor’s note: Hospitals can request emergency use program procedures for Synercid by contacting the company at (800) 798-7425; or outside the United States at (301) 210-0369.]